KISSIMMEE, Fla. --  The University of Delaware baseball team opens its season this weekend against three teams from the top conferences in the country when the Blue Hens compete in the Diamond 9 Sunshine State Games at Osceola Heritage Park.

The four-team tournament, hosted by the University of Pittsburgh, features four games in three days for the Blue Hens, including a doubleheader Saturday.

The Hens open the season Friday (Feb. 17) at 3:30 p.m. against host Pitt. UD continues the weekend with a doubleheader against Kansas State (2 p.m.) and Ohio State (5 p.m.) on Saturday before concluding the weekend with another game against the Panthers (11 a.m.) on Sunday.

An audio link is available for Saturday’s game against Kansas State while live stats are available for all four games.

Delaware, led by veteran head-coach Jim Sherman, returns 25 letterwinners from last season, including all eight starters. Last year the Blue Hens finished 32-22 (10-14 Colonial Athletic Association), and just missed out on postseason play.

Earlier in the month, the Blue Hens were projected to finish fourth overall in the CAA by the league head coaches and had four Preseason all-league selections in Jordan Glover, Nick Patten, Kyle Baker and Brandon Walter.

Seniors Nick Tierno and Glover look to form a potent middle order combination for the second consecutive season.

Last year, Glover (.360 average, 20 doubles, five home runs and 52 RBI) was named first team All-CAA and second team All-East (ECAC). During the offseason Glover was also named a Preseason Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-American.

Tierno (.340 average, 13 doubles, 35 RBI) was named a second team All-CAA selection a season ago.

Glover is joined in the outfield by a pair of sensational sophomores in Kevin Mohollen (.298 average, eight doubles, seven triples, 21 stolen bases) and Baker (.346 average, 12 doubles, two home runs and 33 RBI).

Baker was named a Louisville Slugger/CBM Freshman All-American in 2016 and was an All-CAA Rookie and third team selection. He was also named to the All-CAA preseason list earlier in the month.

On the mound, the Blue Hens will be paced by Preseason All-CAA selection Walter as well as 2017 co-captains Ron Marinaccio and Nick Spadafino.

After spending the season in the rotation, Marinaccio (7-4, 5.18 ERA, 73 strikeouts) projects to be the team's weekend closer, while Walter (7-3, 3.63 ERA, 85 strikeouts) and Spadafino (5-3, 7.01 ERA, 34 strikeouts) will make up two-thirds of the weekend rotation.

Scouting the Foes:

Pittsburgh is coming off a 25-26 season that also did not feature an appearance in the postseason. The Panthers face an up-hill battle this season as they will need to replace five MLB Draft picks, including first round pick TJ Zeuch. Versatile reliever/outfielder Yaya Chentouf and speedy outfielder Frank Maldonado project to be the Panthers' top players this season.

The Hens second opponent this weekend, Ohio State, returns 17 letterwinners from last year's Big Ten Tournament Championship team. The Buckeyes went 42-20 a season ago and advanced to the NCAA Regionals for the 20th time in program history. OSU returns senior captain Jalen Washington and junior pitchers Adam Niemeyer and Yianni Pavlopoulos.

The final opponent UD will square off with in Florida is Kansas State. The Wildcats went 26-31 a season ago and advanced to Big 12 Tournament for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons. Overall, K-State returns 15 letterwinners, including key contributors Jake Scudder (2016 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year) and Freshman CBM All-American Josh Rolette.

All-Time Series:

Delaware is 0-1 all-time against Kansas State and Pittsburgh while the Blue Hens defeated Ohio State 5-4 in the programs lone matchup.

Probable Starters:

Game One (vs. Pittsburgh)- LHP Brandon Walter (So.) vs. RHP Matt Pidich (r-Jr.)
Game Two (vs. Ohio State)- RHP Nick Spadafino (Jr.) vs. RHP Yianni Pavlopoulos (r-Jr.)
Game Three (vs. Kansas State)- LHP Matt Hornich (Jr.) vs. RHP Justin Heskett (Jr.)
Game Four (vs. Pittsburgh)- LHP Kevin Milley (Sr.) vs. TBA

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