Charlotte baseball took to the field Thursday night for the first organized team practice, as allowed by NCAA rules. The team had to adjust for academic schedules, causing the late start, and the Diamond Niners had to start and stop due to lightning, but Friday’s regularly schedule afternoon practice went off without a hitch.

Head coach Loren Hibbs harped on establishing proper practice habits and emphasized speed of work and attention to every detail as the team phase begins.

The 23 returning players were joined by 13 newcomers on the field to prepare for the 2014 season, as the program returns to Conference USA. Players have been going through individual skill workouts and strength and conditioning this fall (check out a gallery of the Rose Center Weight Room here) leading up to the team portion of the fall practice schedule.

The 49ers will play an exhibition in the fall against the Ontario (Canada) Blue Jays as they tour the Southeast in late September, playing college teams on the trip. The contest, a fall showcase, does not count as a playing date due to an international exemption allowed by the NCAA,  and will take place at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium on September 29 at 1 p.m.

The 2014 season starts the weekend of February 14, when the Niners host Youngtown State and Virginia Tech for a season-opening multi-team, round-robin weekend with all games played at Hayes Stadium. Charlotte will face each team twice total in the six-game, three-day event.