By Remle Herzberg
After a shortened season leaving the Bobcats with a record of 14-4, fans and players alike are excited to see what can be accomplished this season. Fans can start heading back to Bobcat Ballpark on February 19th when BYU visits the Bobcats.
It’s easy to speculate what the Bobcats would have done with a full season based on the team’s record after 18 games. Could the Bobcats have won another Sun Belt Championship? The world will never know.
The NCAA gave players another year of eligibility, so there are some familiar faces. Ten seniors returned to the roster including fan favorites like Cole Coffeey and Jaxon Williams. They will continue to don their jerseys at their respective positions for another season.
Last season, the Bobcats began experimenting with new pitchers after the loss of three starters. With the success of the Bobcats pitching rotation, there was nothing to worry about. Fans can count on Zachery Leigh to step up to the mound on Friday nights. In a preseason interview, Leigh shared the team’s goal for this season.
“Our plan as a team is to pick back up right where we left off,” Leigh said.
Head Coach, Steven Trout, has recruited fresh faces from junior college programs and training programs across the country. Trout’s recruits were largely centered around pitchers including RHP Triston Dixon, RHP Zeke Wood, LHP Austin Smith, LHP Cody Farmer and RHP Tristain McCraw. With no shortage of talent or experience, the Sun Belt Conference can expect some heat from this rotation.
Other newcomers include catcher Bryce Bonner, outfielder Ben McClain, and outfielder Johnny Gonzales. Ideally, these players would help fill the gaps for the seniors graduating this May or players finishing their COVID eligibility. These players can be expected to start filling positions.
Trout and his coaching staff had a strong lineup for the 2020 season, and they were no strangers to adjusting the lineup as needed. Wesley Faison and Will Holis are strong candidates for a slot on the lineup with batting averages of .352 and .338. Dalton Shuffield is another batter to watch out for. Shuffield ended the season with a batting average of .297, but the batting average doesn’t account for his four successfully stolen bases and ability to move players around the diamond with ten runs batted in.
There’s a lot going for Trout’s team this year from a strong pitching rotation to smart base runners. The Bobcats should be hopeful for another great start to the season. When asked about this season, Trout had all good things to say about the future of the team.
“There’s big expectations for our group,” Trout said. “We’re off to a great start, who knows how it would have finished last year? I’m very confident in our group. I’m very confident in our players.”
The 2021 Bobcat baseball season starts at home on Saturday, February 20th with a doubleheader. First pitch is at 12pm. Bobcat Ballpark is open at 35% capacity to fans in compliance with COVID restrictions.
Featured Image by Remle Herzberg