AC News Service
The Angelina College Roadrunner baseball team opens its 2012 campaign with doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday.
Before the first pitch on Friday, the team might need to re-program its GPS.
Members of Region XIV's East Zone for years, the Roadrunners will now compete in the South Zone. The addition of other programs – Laredo, for instance – necessitated the change in order to keep a balance in the number of conference teams.
What that means for the ‘Runners is a season facing possibly even stiffer competition than they've experienced in the past. Perennial powerhouse San Jacinto, along with Blinn, Alvin, Wharton, Galveston and now Laredo has managed to provide the conference champions over the past few years.
However, according to head coach Jeff Livin, facing tough competition will be nothing new for his own program.
"It is what it is," Livin said during Thursday's practice. "It was handed down to us to help balance out the conferences. Playing-wise, I feel like a broken record, but it's up to us. Alvin is going to be very strong this year, San Jac is always tough and Blinn always has a dominant program. But we've played teams like Navarro, Texarkana, Panola, Paris and Northeast Texas, and they're always hard to beat, too.
"It's a different animal, but it's still the same game. I don't think it will be any easier or any tougher."
Quirks in the new schedule mean several tripleheaders: Single, nine-inning games on weekdays followed by Saturday doubleheaders. In the past, the baseball teams have played solely on Wednesdays and Saturdays; now there will be games scattered throughout the week.
All of that's far enough ahead that Livin isn't concerned yet. Instead, he said he and the team are focused on this weekend's action. Today at Roadrunner Complex they'll host the Temple Leopards in a twin bill, and on Saturday Panola's Ponies come to town for two more games.
Those games, Livin said, will help him determine which of his players are ready for the grind. With a roster filled with freshmen and transfers complementing a core group of returning sophomores, the Roadrunner schedule won't be the only new part of the game for Livin.
"We all need the work. I'm as uneasy going into this season as I've been in many years," Livin said. "I've always kind of said I'm not worried about having a good fall because I wanted the guys hungry in the spring. Be careful what you ask for, because we didn't have a great fall. I didn't like the way the fall season unfolded at all.
"We're kind of a blue-collar team that's going to have do things with a little extra effort, and I'll be looking to see if we can put that on the field with the uniforms on."
First pitch for today's game at Roadrunner Complex is 2 p.m. Scheduled starting pitchers for the Roadrunners are Corey Lapeze and Matt Roberts.
Saturday's games against Panola also start at 2 p.m.