Nathan Blackwood starts his 17th season as Lubbock Christian University baseball coach this week, moving him past Larry Hays as the longest-tenured coach in the program’s history.
Outside of Blackwood and the blue-and-white uniforms, though, Chaparrals fans might not recognize much else about the 2020 team. It’s virtually all new: New lineup, new starting rotation, new assistant coaches, new conference, new scheduling setup.
From a 35-17 team that won the Heartland Conference regular-season championship last year, LCU lost 14 seniors and a drafted junior, virtually all of whom played key roles. New hitting coach Hector Limon and new pitching coach Jermaine Van Buren replaced Bob Fannin and Justin Sundlie in those roles.
LCU also was among a cluster of schools who left the dissolved Heartland Conference when last school year ended for the Lone Star Conference, making the LSC, with 19 schools, the largest Division II conference in the NCAA.
Fourteen play baseball in the LSC, and because the conference is so large, the Chaparrals don’t have a single non-conference game on the 50-game schedule.
Even with LCU’s almost total roster turnover, the conference’s coaches,…