Cumberland will have an entirely new outfield in 2011 with the departures of four seniors from last year. Four transfers will fill those spots, including two local players.
Gallatin, Tenn., native and Lipscomb University transfer Antonio Butler will man centerfield the start the season. He played in 48 games as a freshman, earning All-Conference honors.
“Antonio can really run. If he can use his speed and not have any fear, we really look for him to be a good defensive player because we know he can track the ball down.”
University of Kentucky transfer Cory Farris will likely start the year in rightfield but may also see time in center as well as a little behind the plate.
“[Farris] is a really good athlete who was a Division I football prospect but chose to play baseball at Kentucky. I think he can really come on and have great year for us. He batted fifth at UK the first half of last year. He has really good ability, a lefthanded hitter who can run.”
In leftfield a pair of players will get the opportunity to nail down a spot – Volunteer State Community College transfer Brandon King and freshman Richie Seaton.
“[Richie] is a good player, a solid player, kind of under the radar a little bit. Brandon King has really been swinging the bat well for us. He’s going to get a lot of playing time. We’ve just got to decide which guy will be out there.”
The 2011 schedule features 31 home games, two contests at Veterans Field in Lebanon and eight opponents ranked in the 2011 NAIA Baseball Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll. In all the Bulldogs will play 14 games against teams ranked in the Preseason Top 25 against Lee University, Embry-Riddle, Belhaven University, LSU-Shreveport, Tennessee Wesleyan, Union University, Campbellsville University and Brewton-Parker.
In addition the Bulldogs will play another 10 contests against teams in the receiving votes category of the Preseason Poll, including Northwood University, Texas Wesleyan, Indiana Tech, Trevecca Nazarene and Bethel University. Four clubs on the schedule participated in the 2010 NAIA World Series – Lee, Belhaven, Embry-Riddle and Tennessee Wesleyan – while six others played in the 2010 NAIA Championships Opening Round – Brewton-Parker, Campbellsville, Indiana Tech, LSU-Shreveport, Missouri Baptist and Union Univ.
“I think No. 1, people want to play us because they want to beat us. Scheduling is very hard,” Hunt said. “We call around until we find the right mix. I like to challenge the team.
“This year we go to Dallas and then we play someone who I think will be one of the top teams in the country in LSU-Shreveport. They’re going to be very, very good. I usually don’t try to worry about the record. However it’s more important now than ever before because of the rankings. We like to challenge the team early in the year through travel and through good opponents.”