By Cole Paveglio
It’s been a long winter filled with chilly nights and a single night of snow on the ground. This Valentine’s Day, Bobcat fans can fall in love with the game of baseball here in San Marcos once again.
A page in Bobcat baseball history is turning. Ty Harrington left Bobcat Ballpark as head coach for the last time in May. Now in the batter’s box is new head baseball coach, Steven Trout, leading the Bobcats into the next decade.
Trout, an assistant coach for seven seasons under Harrington, accepted the head coaching position only a few weeks after Harrington’s departure back in June. Now, eight months after filling the position, Trout will face his first opponents Friday, Feb 14 against the Stony Brook Seawolves.
Coach Trout said the difference between his coaching and Harrington’s is nothing crazy. “I think it’s more the outsiders looking in wondering how a younger guy is gonna step in for a guy that was here for 20 years,” Trout said. “It’s more not worrying about the outside noise and more about what we’re doing.”
In 20 seasons with the maroon and gold, Harrington led the ‘Cats to 657 wins and 576 losses. Harrington received the Southland Conference Coach of the Year award in 2009 and 2011, and Sun Belt Coach of the Year honors in his last season as a Bobcat.
While Harrington was a tremendous presence in this baseball program, Trout is an ideal fit to fill the head coaching vacancy at Texas State.
He’s been around college baseball since his playing days at Texarkana College and TCU in the mid-2000’s. From the early days of playing for legendary college baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle at TCU, through ten years of coaching experience in different roles, Trout has the connections to continue building this program beyond its summit.
Texas State is coming off of an up-and-down season in 2019. The Bobcats won the regular season title in the Sun Belt Conference and headed into the Sun Belt Tournament with the first overall seed. However, the Bobcats had two tough losses against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks and the eventual tournament champions Coastal Carolina Chaunticleers, in which they were outscored 21-4. With those two grueling losses, the Bobcats missed an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
The Bobcats lost three very important weekend starting pitchers along with Jaylen Hubbard, a career Bobcat with impactful run production in the lineup and fielding ability at third base. Replacing Hubbard will be tough, but they have to start somewhere. “JT Thompson and Cole Coffey are two guys that are there battling at third base,” Trout said. Because Coffey can play first too, the lineup may be very flexible around multiple options in the infield as well as the outfield.
“In center, we have Chase Evans and then Isaiah Ortega-Jones,” Trout said. “Those are two guys that are battling for that spot right now.”
Senior Chase Evans showed in his first season with the Bobcats that he can be a good bat in the lineup, scoring 12 runs in 69 at-bats in 2019. Whereas junior transfer Isiah Ortega-Jones was known to be a speedster on the basepaths at Ranger College. Both have special skills to bring to the team, and both are looking to make a name for themselves at Texas State.
Pitching is a sore spot for the Bobcats heading into the season. All three of Texas State’s starting options on the weekend were picked up by MLB teams in the 2019 draft. Pitching coach Chad Massengale will need to discover what the Bobcats have left to throw out on the mound to start games.
Massengale isn’t left completely dry however, the returning pitchers for the maroon and gold have starting experience and are training for the starting spots. Senior Wes Engle is returning off of his injury-riddled redshirt season in 2019. Engle’s a left-handed pitcher that has experience throwing long innings and starting games in 2017 and 2018.
Last season, senior Garrett Herrmann gained experience starting on the mound and is known to be a reliable pitcher that can come out of the bullpen and record outs when necessary. Along with Herrmann, senior Zach Leigh can be a starter the Bobcats are looking for. Leigh showed his ability to handle high stakes when he primarily came out of the pen in 2019. He recorded six saves and 32 strikeouts in 34.2 innings last season.
New chemistry will have to be built between the pitchers and catchers this season as the Bobcats lost their starting catcher Felipe Rodriguez. One option could be senior transfer, Tucker Redden, who transferred from the University of Houston to play for Texas State. However, Trout assures there’s no defined starter going into the season.
“Tucker Redden’s got a lot of experience behind the dish,” Trout said. “Colton Moore and Peyton Lewis are two other guys. Then we have two freshmen that are battling as well.” Redden is looking to have a bounce back season offensively from his junior season at Houston when he batted .182 in 66 plate appearances.
Come this baseball season, there will be plenty to cheer about, Bobcat fans. Head coach Steven Trout’s first season, the position battle at catcher and the starting pitching rotation are all interesting stories to watch develop over the course of the 2020 baseball season.
The Bobcat baseball season starts Feb. 14 against Stony Brook at 6 p.m. at home. The series against the Seawolves will be four games, including a double-header scheduled on Saturday, Feb 15.
Feature image by Kirby Crumpler.