JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 25, 2017) – With school a week into the spring semester, the ETSU baseball team has been hard at work for several weeks as it prepares for its opening weekend against Central Michigan on February 17 at Thomas Stadium.
“It’s hard to believe that Opening Day is only 23 days away,” said head coach Tony Skole. “The anticipation of beginning the baseball season is always such an exciting time. During this time of the season, I always feel like a kid in a candy shop.”
The Bucs are just over three weeks away from taking the diamond for the season opener with the Chippewas. To lead the squad, Skole returns many upperclassmen to show leadership on the diamond. Of those names, three were drafted last year: Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.), Aaron Maher (Brentwood, Tenn.), and Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.). To join the triple threat, the Blue and Gold have a total of 24 upperclassmen to lead the way.
“We have an experienced ball club returning. We have well over 1,500 at-bats amongst our returning hitters, and in these at-bats, our guys have hit at a .320 clip,” said Skole. “We have some exciting guys to watch among our position players, and we have added some nice depth to compliment this group. I also love the way these guys can defend the field as well. We have some healthy competition amongst our position players who are fighting to break into the lineup.”
Aside from position players, ETSU returns a plethora of experienced pitchers for the 2017 season. Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) had a career-best season last year where he went 8-4 in 26 appearances and six starts. The senior had a team-best opposing batting average of .252 in 60.2 innings pitched. Alongside McCann, Peyton Taylor (Kingsport, Tenn.), Ryan Simpler (Lewes, Del.) and Griffin Krieg (Nashville, Tenn.) have all combined for 541.1 career innings pitched in 222 appearances.
“Our pitching staff is where I am most excited though. We have over 800 innings of experience returning. From top to bottom, this staff is the deepest and most talented staff we have had in some time,” said Skole. “These men have made a huge commitment to each other to become one of the hardest working pitching staff in the country, and it has paid dividends in their development this fall and winter. I’m excited to watch these guys this preseason, as there is also a great battle going to see who will fill out our rotation and relief roles.”
Along with experience, Skole signed 11 new players in which he expects to make an immediate impact for the Bucs. Of the incoming players, five are community college transfers (three pitchers, one infielder and one outfielder). Of the remaining newcomers, six are rookies, and they are gearing up to make their collegiate debuts. All six freshmen are position players, and they look to learn and compete with the upperclassmen.
“We have an older team mixed in with a few new faces, and the team has really taken a very professional approach since they walked on campus this past August,” said Skole. “It has been amazing to see them hold each other accountable and work hard for each other. When this type of selfless attitude and culture is prevalent, it really makes our coaching staff’s job much easier.”
With the season just a few weeks away, the Bucs will host an innersquad series at Thomas Stadium every weekend until opening weekend. The innersquad games are free and open to the public.
The schedule for January 27-29 is below:
|Friday, January 27||3 p.m.|
|Saturday, January 28||Noon|
|Sunday, January 29||Off|
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