The Oregon State Beavers are fast approaching their 2021 baseball season, with a schedule that includes the entire PAC-12 conference, as well as many out-of-conference games, even with safety restrictions due to COVID-19.
The Beavers officially started practice for the upcoming year on Jan. 24th, and are striving to bounce back to the championship form they held just a few seasons prior in 2018. In 2020, Oregon State finished with a record of 5-9 before the season was canceled abruptly on March 11, alongside college athletics across the country.
Heading into 2021, the Beavers kick things off with a 10-day stretch starting on Feb. 19th against multiple out-of-conference opponents including Kansas State, New Mexico, Gonzaga and Grand Canyon University.
Newly hired assistant coach and former Oregon State second baseman Darwin Barney believes he and the team look forward to shaking off the rust above all else.
“That first game against Kansas State, is one we’re looking forward to most,” Barney said. “A lot of these guys haven’t played a game since last March.”
Getting off on the right foot during the Arizona stretch will set the Beavers up nicely for their conference schedule. On March 4, the Beavers return home to face off against the BYU Cougars for a three-game series, their final out of conference stretch before PAC-12 play begins.
On March 12, the Beavers will have their first PAC-12 series against long-time rivals, the Oregon Ducks. PAC-12 play is set to last through May 29th, with the Beavers hosting Oregon, Washington State, Utah, Cal, and USC during that stretch.
Along with that slate of conference foes is a midseason out of conference stretch that features Portland, Gonzaga, UC Irvine, and Loyola Marymount. The schedule currently sits at a total of 56 games.
Currently, the Oregon State Beavers sit on the outside looking in of the top 25 national rankings according to the USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll.
There is a degree of uncertainty surrounding the preseason rankings for the upcoming season, as many programs did not make it to conference play in 2020 with the season-ending on short notice, leaving lingering questions on what most teams will look like heading into the year.
But finding themselves unranked in the preseason polls, the Oregon State Beavers are ready to prove their worth.
“One of our main focuses this season is identity,” Barney said. “This club is talented. This club has a deep pitching staff, great defenders, and great athletes. The biggest thing is finding what this team stands for.”
The Beavers have earned themselves the title of being a college baseball powerhouse with 13 postseason appearances and three national championships in the last 16 years. Getting back to that form is one of their biggest goals during the 2021 season.
“We're trying to win a World Series,” Barney said when asked about the team’s biggest goal. “This team has all the pieces and in a lot of ways is one of the most talented teams I’ve seen here.”
Oregon State gets their season underway on Friday, Feb. 19 against the Kansas State Wildcats in Surprise, Arizona.