Tennessee Tech Series
Friday's season opener will mark the Bears' first meeting with Tennessee Tech out of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Bears do have an extensive history against the rest of the OVC, bringing a cumulative 116-73 (.614) overall mark against the league's membership into the season.
Texas Tech Series
MSU and Texas Tech have split two previous meetings, including a 4-2 Bears win over the 1997 Big 12 champion Red Raiders in their last trip to Lubbock as part of the NCAA Central Regional. The Red Raiders claimed the only other contest in the series, taking a 7-3 decision over MSU at the Fresno State Classic in March 1993. MSU enters the season with an overall record of 69-75 (.479) against the current membership of the Big 12 Conference, including a 6-2 mark against the circuit in 2011.
About the Bears
Following a disappointing end to an otherwise memorable bounceback 2011 season, Missouri State enters the new year as the preseason choice to capture the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title for the fourth time in the last 12 seasons. The 2012 season promises to be a milestone year for the Bears, who mark their 30th year as a Division I program. It will also be the 30th campaign for head coach Keith Guttin, who enters the season just eight wins shy of the 1,000 career win mark. The Bears' strength is in numbers -- both in quality and quantity -- with seven regular position starters and six experienced seniors returning from last year's 33-23 squad that finished fourth in the Valley. MSU will turn to a trio of seniors to lead an offensive attack that posted a league-best .292 team batting mark in 2011. Second baseman Kevin Medrano (.325, 34 RBI, 13 SB), a preseason All-America choice and 14th-round draft choice last June, has been the Bears' most-consistent hitter since his freshman year and will have the chance to leave his mark on a number of MSU career offensive charts. He could also become the first four-time first-team All-MVC honoree in Valley history this spring. Third sacker Brent Seifert paced the club with 9 HR and 43 RBIs as a junior, and first-baseman/DH Brock Chaffin was a second-team all-conference selection after batting a team-high .344 and slugging .550 in 2011. Additionally, junior Luke Voit (.286, 6 HR, 35 RBI) will be called upon to duplicate the power numbers that earned him Second-Team All-MVC honors as a sophomore. The Bears' mound corps will be led by 2011 MVC Freshman of the Year Nick Petree, who went 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA to garner Freshman All-America honors last spring. Junior right-hander Pierce Johnson (6-5, 4.76) blossomed late in 2011 and enters the season as Baseball America's top MVC prospect in the draft classes of 2012-13. Closing things out will be junior Grant Gordon (3-6, 4.26), who notched seven saves as a freshman before moving to the rotation last year.