Saluki baseball goes into a weekend series against Evansville with 71 errors this season, forcing coach Ken Henderson to make some defensive changes.
“We have guys that are capable of making plays, and for whatever reason, we haven’t done that,” Henderson said. “We’ve moved some people around.”
Defensively, Henderson moved junior Austin Montgomery from right field to third base, sophomore Donny Duschinsky to shortstop and sophomore Jake Welch to second base.
Henderson said he believed second base to be Welch’s natural position as opposed to shortstop, where Welch started his first 22 games this season. Welch said he liked the move to second because it doesn’t force him to rush his throws, which he said was a problem for the entire infield.
“I’m just glad I’m in the lineup. That’s the big thing for me,” Welch said. “As long as I’m in the lineup, I’m happy. I don’t care where I’m at.”
The pitching rotation will also be tweaked when the Salukis face Evansville (19-10, 3-3 Missouri Valley Conference) today, Saturday and Sunday at Abe Martin Field. Freshman right-hander Sam Coonrod will get the start Sunday in place of junior left-hander Nathan Dorris, who hasn’t made it past the fifth inning in his last three starts.
“(Dorris) needs to find the confidence that he had earlier in the year,” said pitching coach P.J. Finigan.
Finigan said they haven’t given up on Dorris and they plan to use him in relief for three or four innings. He said Coonrod has been more consistent this season, and he will do a better job of keeping Evansville from attempting steals.
Teams have attempted 64 steals against the Salukis this season, the most of any MVC team. Evansville has the second-most with 37.
SIU swept Evansville in their three-game series last season, but Henderson said they’re a completely different team with a younger roster this season.
“I know they’ll be athletic. They run well; they always run well,” Henderson said. “Their pitching will be better. That was one thing from last year; they had some key injuries on the mound from last year and they’ll have a couple of those guys back.”
Today’s matchup will feature junior left-hander Cody Forsythe against Evansville sophomore left-hander Cole Isom, who has a 3.22 ERA with 35 strikeouts.
Cameron Maldonado will take the bump Saturday after he pitched a complete game six-hitter against Wichita State in his last start. Finigan said the coaching staff likes that they can rely on Forsythe and Maldonado to pitch deep into games.
“Those guys are finally settled in to what we thought they were going to be, and they got a lot of confidence right now,” Finigan said. “We hope that they can give us seven or eight innings.”
Evansville hasn’t announced its starter for Saturday’s game, while freshman left-hander Kyle Freeland will get the start Sunday for Evansville against Coonrod.