Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is located in Daytona Beach, FL. The campus is a stone's throw from the Daytona International Speedway, and 4 1/2 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Embry-Riddle is the premier aviation and aerospace university in the world, and offers degrees in aviation, engineering, business, sciences and arts. The student body is 4,500 undergraduate and 600 graduate students.
Embry-Riddle fields teams in 14 sports. The baseball program was built by Greg Guilliams, who coached the Eagles from 1992 to 2007. He took them to the Baseball National Championship six times, and they were national runner-up in 2004.
Guilliams is now at Valdosta State. He was replaced by Randy Stegall, who previously coached at Cumberland and Indiana Tech. Stegall's record over four seasons is 186-62. The Eagles made it to Lewiston all four seasons, and they made it to the semi-final in 2010. In 2011, RHP Brandon Creath was drafted by the Cardinals, and RHP Tucker Jensen was signed as a free agent by the Blue Jays.
So, the Eagles have a very successful program, but they are still looking for that first national championship. For this year's effort, most of their position players are returning, including SS Ben Kline, who batted .368 last year, with nine home runs. 1B Chris Page, who was drafted in 2009, batted .318 with six home runs. Kline and Page tied for the team lead with 63 RBI. Another noteworthy returnee is OF/1B Keaton Stroud, who batted .364, and led the team with a .500 on-base percentage.
They will have ten new faces on the mound, led by 6' 9” RHP/1B Matt Skipper. Skipper started his college career at San Diego State, and played at New Mexico JC in 2010. He led the team with 62 innings pitched, had a record of 7-3, 3.92 ERA, and 41 strikeouts. He was also .378 at the plate.
Another good JUCO transfer is RHP David Lidyard, who had some very good numbers at Tacoma CC last year: 5-2, 2.18 ERA. The brightest prospect, however, could be RHP Adam Paulencu, who was drafted in the 13th round by the Giants this past June. He played for the Vancouver Island Baseball Institute, based in Nanaimo, BC, and his record was 6-4, 2.40 ERA, and a team-best 51 strikeouts. He was all set to sign with the Giants and go to their class A team in Salem-Keiser, OR, but he didn't pass the physical because of a micro tear in his shoulder. He has a fastball in the 91-94 MPH range.
The Eagles play a strong schedule. They have South Carolina-Beaufort and Savannah College of Art and Design for conference opponents. They host Brewton-Parker on Feb. 21, and host Cumberland for three games March 5-7. They will make a trip to Lewiston to play four games at Lewis-Clark State March 20-22. They also play two strong Division II teams on the road, Florida Southern on April 10, and Tampa on April 17.
The Eagles also play the class A Daytona Cubs every year, and it's April 4 this year. Coach Stegall describes this games as a great experience for his team. “Most of our guys will never have the opportunity to play the game at that level, so for one night a year the guys get that 'professional' experience. The guys love it. I have a love/hate relationship with it, I hate having to worry about guys getting hurt and I love it, because its the one game of the year where I don't care if we win or lose.”
The Eagles play their home games in Sliwa Stadium, opened on 2001 and upgraded in 2007. They draw good crowds. Sliwa Stadium has lights, a 36-foot scoreboard with message center, and a seating capacity of 600. The dimensions are 330 feet down the lines, 375 feet to the power alleys and 400 feet to straight away center field.