by Danene Bottiaux, Triangle Staff Writer
With new Head Coach Taylor Hasty, Assistant Coach Jeremy Deal, and 15 new eligible freshmen, the baseball team is ready for the 2009 season.
Last year the baseball team finished with a 19-30 record led by Coach Joel Johnson, and this year they were ranked 8th out of 10 teams during the preseason in the Appalachian Athletic Conference. The team started out with 26 new recruits in the fall and ended up with 15 eligible players for the spring.
According to Davis, a primary reason for the drop in numbers is academic ineligibility.
Bryan College requires the freshman players to maintain a 1.5 GPA in order to play in the season.
The captains for the 2009 season are seniors Matt Hicks and Will Newman, juniors Jon Brown and Ben Young and sophomore JD Davis.
The team’s goals this year, said Jon Brown, are “to have a better record, to finish above .500 and to be top five in the conference.”
“This year the team practices more and puts in more time, so hopefully it will pay off,” Young said.
Freshmen recruits looking to make a big impact are: first baseman and designated hitter Drew Brown, catcher Jordan Day and pitchers Tyler Brown and Zach Breazeale.
Day will be starting catcher for the first few games while captain and catcher, Brown, recovers from an arm injury. Davis said freshman Tyler Brown is a talented pitcher with “four quality pitches and ability to throw strikes.”
“This team has good defensive players and is able to make plays in the field and are deeper in our pitching and can throw strikes.” Hasty said.
Of the returning players Hasty is depending heavily on senior pitcher Mark Barnwell, captain and junior pitcher Ben Young, first base Matt Hicks, captain and shortstop JD Davis, along with junior Ryan Henn. He is hoping that with these strong returning players and freshman the team will have a winning season.
Davis and Young both agreed that in order to win games this season the team needs to “pitch and play better with no errors, and not give up runs.”
Hasty is confident that this year will be a great transition year.
“We are really close to turning this program around.” Hasty said. “It takes a special team to take a program to the next level and I hope it’s this team.”