How did fall practice go?
“I thought the fall went great. A lot of the returning players stepped up and came through on the field and off. They showed the new guys what is expected around here in terms of work ethic and what is expected. I think we have the best leadership since I have been here. Also, our older players had really good falls statistically, which a lot of times doesn’t happen because they are a little tired of summer and spring baseball but this year was different and they really got after it.”
How is Trey Holloway doing?
“Trey is doing well. He came out and didn’t get to throw right away but did well when he did get to throw. He had a little bit of irritation and had to take a little time off. It was just normal stuff. We think by spring he should be ready to go and should be a big part of our team with his pitching and experience.”
How is Charley Boyce doing?
“Charley is doing well and is ahead of schedule. They went in there and had to shave down the bone spur, which isn’t uncommon for someone who throws a lot. Professionals will have that done two or three times in a career, and it usually sets them back a month or so. He will be back and throwing again by December.”
Where would you rate this team right now compared to the ones you’ve had so far?
“It will be the most experienced one I have had. Physically, it is one of the stronger and quicker teams I have had. If all of our older kids are in the lineup, it will be the best offensive team from top to bottom because of who is coming back and how much they have played. On the mound, we have a couple of guys that we can depend on with Nick Schmidt and Charley Boyce, but it is still a question mark who will be our third starter and who will be where in the bullpen. I do believe our older kids are better than last year like Lee Land and Daryl Maday, who were up and down all of last year. I think they will be better because they are a year older.”
Of the freshmen, who is going to surprise us the most?
“We have two or three freshmen that have a chance to play in the field. Logan Forsythe is a third baseman that will have a chance. James Ewing is also an infielder that can play third. Jerrod Carroll will be rotated in the outfield. He was recruited as an infielder/outfielder. Those three all had really good falls. Another freshman who really hit the ball well, but we aren’t sure if we are going to redshirt him yet, so I won’t mention his name. We can only play one DH at a time so that is an issue because we don’t have a position for him yet. As far as pitching, Brett Bollman threw the ball pretty well but other than that it was just the older guys that will contribute.”
How are the veterans handling their leadership role?
“It’s nice to know we have older kids that can get it done. We are going to have older kids that will be battling to play, so our bench will be older as well. Chris Hollensworth is going to be trying to crack the lineup. Stephen Robison is going to be trying to crack the lineup offensively. He is an outstanding baserunner and is outstanding defensively. He swung the bat better this fall. The key for us will be if Craig Gentry and Ben Tschepikow are ready to go. If they are in the lineup, we are going to have a good offense and be fun to watch.”
With the success of the past couple of years, does this team have some sort of swagger?
“This team is confident and has worked extremely hard so they have high goals. They are on a mission and all want to have a good year. Blake Parker is going to have that year we have all been thinking he will have. Danny Hamblin is going to do better than what he did in the past. I think the team is ready to go on a run.”
What makes you think Blake Parker will have a better year?
“You can see a different person as far as the confidence level. He had a tremendous fall hitting the ball and played good defense catching and in right field. We are experimenting with him at third base. He seems like he has gotten over the hump mentally and is ready to put together a good season.”
What pitcher stood out during fall practice?
“Brian McClellan had a good fall and summer. His velocity is really good. He is confident and has good movement on the ball. He is versatile, and we just have to find a role for him. He might be spot starter, doing middle relief, or he might even close a game. Josh Smith and Lee Land had better fall practice. We think they are both dedicated to getting in better shape. They are both guys we are depending on to turn the corner and be guys that can get us over the hump on Sunday games.”
Who will be the starters as of now?
“Brian Walker will be the starting catcher, Danny Hamblin will be at first base, Ben Tschepikow if healthy will be at second, and John Marquardt will be at shortstop. In a perfect world, Blake Parker would be at third base. It might turn out to be one of the freshmen (Forsythe and Ewing). In the outfield, we will have Clint Arnold and Jake Dugger at a corner. In center will be either Stephen Robison or Craig Gentry, depending on who is healthy. Chris Hollensworth might also be in there to DH or play a corner outfield position. It will be a good problem to have so much depth.”
What will be Charley Boyce’s role?
“Starting the season, he will be a starter. Hopefully we can throw Schmidt and Boyce, then figure out a third guy. We have some games to experiment before conference play so we will have it figured out before we head to Florida (to open conference play).”