JSU MSU baseball

A large crowd was on hand for the first set of exhibition baseball games played at the new Jim Case Stadium between JSU and Mississippi State. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

Jacksonville State's baseball team will return to its home field Friday for its first regular-season game there since 2016, and you want to know one of the reasons they're happy to be back?

Their fellow students on campus.

While the players clearly appreciated having a great place like Oxford's Choccolocco Park as a temporary home while the new baseball stadium was built, several lamented that they wished it was easier for their classmates to come see them play.

I'm not one to shame anyone for not coming to a sporting event. It's your time, and if you don't want to spend it at a stadium, who am I to tell you that you're wrong? Do what's best for you, and I won't argue.

But, if you're a Jacksonville State student who's friends with a baseball player, be aware that he might appreciate it if you walked across campus to a game or two — or more. Admission for JSU students is free at home games. All they need to do is show their student ID at the gate.

Also, weather won't ruin a home date as it might've in the past. It's not fun watching the sky open up onto a grass and dirt field, knowing that even when the weather clears, it'll be at least another hour before groundskeepers can return the field back to playing shape.

With the new artificial turf, maintenance time is cut down to nearly nothing, and even a light rain might not be enough to chase the players off the field.

There are 31 home games this year, including contests against North Alabama on Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Purdue, Georgia, Auburn and Alabama will visit this year, too. So will instate rivals such as Troy, Samford, Alabama State and UAB — in addition to the UNA series.

Again, if you're a student and don't want to come, that's certainly fine, but if you want to support one of their friends on the team, it won't go unnoticed.

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.