The baseball season is just a month away for Southwestern Assemblies of God University, which is seeking its first winning season in history.
The Lions' new head coach, Jon Shockley, is filled with optimism that this can be that first winning year. Shockley was formerly the coach at Central Christian College.
The new coach released the team's 49-game schedule last week, and it includes 25 home contests.
The Lions will begin with a nine-game homestand, starting with a single game against Hillsdale College on Jan. 27.
Southwestern will play in 15 doubleheaders, nine of them in Waxahachie.
LSU-Shreveport, 47-15 last year, is the team to beat in the Red River Athletic Conference this spring.
The Pilots were ranked No. 6 in the NAIA's preseason poll. LSUS comes to Waxahachie for a three-game series March 30.
Northwood University (39-18) enters as the No. 2 club in the league while rated No. 24 by the NAIA.
UT-Brownsville (35-26) was No. 41 in the pre-season poll.
This year's Lion squad consists of 31 players, 13 of which were on the 2011 team, which finished 10-30 overall and 5-25 in RRAC action.
Competition to earn a starting position was fierce during fall camp.
Five of the newcomers were also SAGU football players: Rockie Davis, Nephtali Fletcher, Reid Golson, Adam O'Bannion and Matthew Umphenour.
Shockley also announced that he has filled his coaching staff.
Brady James enters his second season with the Lions, while Tommy Benningfield and Rance Melton have joined the squad as assistant coaches.
All three are former players for SAGU.
Second Hand Lions
SAGU has a core of last season's team returning. Of the veterans, centerfielder Dustin Jett is expected to figure prominently in the team's attack. Appropriately named, the speedy Jett hit .368 and led the Lions in scoring with 33 runs. The Louisiana native swiped 25 bases in 27 tries.
Others who are back include:
Ben Chavez, senior, outfielder
Dominic Denney, senior, catcher
Jared Denton, sophomore, catcher
Riley Hensel, senior, third Baseman
Dustin Jett, senior, outfielder
Tim Kolczak, senior, pitcher
Weston Lippe, sophomore, shortstop
Nic Morgan, senior, pitcher
Michael Reeves, sophomore, pitcher
Jon Savis, sophomore, pitcher
Trevor Schexneider, senior, pitcher
Nick Sheffield, sophomore, first Baseman
Chris Stanley, senior, pitcher