, Jonathan Hardy, BYU
Led by first-year coach Mike Littlewood, the BYU baseball team opens the 2013 season Friday with a doubleheader against Northern Colorado at the Brooks Wallace Memorial Classic in Lubbock, Texas.
The Cougars continue tournament play Saturday with games against Northern Illinois and tournament host Texas Tech.
"We're really excited about it," said Littlewood, who guided Dixie State to the Juco national championship in 2004. "We had a chance to get down to St. George the last couple of weekends and get outside and knock some of the rust off, which was good for us. We were able to evaluate. It was nice to be able to hit ground balls on dirt. We have a pretty good idea of what we want our lineup to be."
BYU's starter in its opener Friday will be junior co-captain Desmond Poulson, who posted a 1-3 record with a 3.91 ERA last season.
"Poulson is going to be our No. 1 starter," Littlewood said. "He's a guy we expect to give us seven or eight quality innings every start."
Junior Jaycob Brugman is making the switch from right to centerfield. "Jaycob will obviously play a huge role for us,” Littlewood said.
The Cougars are looking to rebound from a dismal 22-27 season a year ago.
"The guys are ready to go. They're hungry for success," Littlewood said. "We don't have a lot of depth. But the guys we're going to run out there are going to play hard and they're going to compete. We want to play hard and be fundamentally sound. We know if we put out a winning product, everybody's going to want to be here."
Littlewood is optimistic about what his team can accomplish this season, but he also knows his players need to step up in their roles.
“If our upperclassmen play to their potential we will have an exciting year," he said. "I'm excited about our pitching staff. We have a lot of quality arms and we are just trying to find a role for each one of those arms. We need Desmond to have a big year for us, as well as a couple of inexperienced guys to step up and have great years."
One newcomer to keep an eye on is freshman outfielder Jacob Hannemann, who redshirted with the BYU football team in 2012 after returning home from a mission. Hannemann was drafted by the Kansas City Royals before his mission.
Next weekend, the Cougars will play at No. 3 Louisiana State, with two games against the Tigers and two more against Southeastern Louisiana.
BYU was picked to finish sixth in the nine-team West Coast Conference in the preseason coaches' poll.
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