Copperheads season and home opener Thursday

ATHENS – The end of school and the beginning of summer means the start of a new season for the Southern Ohio Copperheads in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate baseball league.

The Copperheads met for their first practice Monday and are scheduled to play their first game Thursday. Tuesday was the team’s media day at Bob Wren Stadium on the campus of Ohio University, where optimism was high for the upcoming season.

“We have a chance to be pretty good,” said Southern Ohio head coach Jonathan Nichols. “We’ve got a couple kids that aren’t here yet that are coming from their teams that went to the (NCAA) regional. That always helps, the winning mentality.”

Nichols is entering his season year as the Copperheads’ skipper. Last year he guided Southern Ohio to a 25-15 record, which was the best mark in the league. The club is hoping for similar success this season.

“There’s a lot of really talented guys out here so we should be a pretty competitive team,” said pitcher Matt Mikolajczak, a student/player for the Bobcats. “We’re gonna play hard and do what we can to win as many games as we can.”

Nobody on this season’s roster was on the team last year. There are four players on the roster that played for the Ohio Bobcats this spring. There are also players in from Michigan State, Marshall, Georgia Tech, Xavier and many others.

The 25-man roster consists of 10 pitchers, eight infielders, four outfielders and three catchers.

Last year, the Copperheads batted .257 as a team and clubbed 10 homeruns. The pitching staff compiled an earned run average of 3.42.

But with all new players on this season’s squad, it’s hard to predict what some of the team’s strengths and weaknesses will be.

“From what I’ve seen, we could be a pretty good offensive club,” Nichols said. “We’ve got some guys that can swing the bat a little bit just from watching (batting practice Monday). Having not seen them do a lot of things in field yet, we have a chance to be a productive offensive club if it translates into the game.”

Nichols said the team stays together during the summer at one of OU’s sorority houses. Nichols loves Athens and appreciates the support the team gets.

“The town is awesome,” Nichols said. “Athens’ support is awesome for the Copperheads.”

The Copperheads’ home and season opener is against the Hamilton Joes at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, just three days after the team met for the first time. Nichols is hoping to take advantage of that time to become familiar with his players as opposed to learning on the fly.

“You don’t really know what you’ve got until you get here,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t have that practice time before and you just get right out there in the game situation so it makes it a little hard to kind of learn on the run. Having a little bit of practice time allows us to see what our guys can do.”