Aggies Baseball off to a winning start
A month into the Murray State College baseball schedule, winter weather has changed things up for the team. Despite the cold weather, postponements, and cancelations, the team is off to a winning start. The team is ends Februrary with a 13-2 record. Head Coach Zach Crabtree says he expects big things from his young team.
“I think winning the regional tournament and getting back to the World Series is a part of our expectations every year now,” says Crabtree. “We’ve basically got a whole new group of players and some returning guys. We’ve got to see how we develop as a team, but there’s some individual talent there.”
Crabtree says returning sophomores will leadership and consistency on the mound for the Aggies. All-Region left-handed pitcher Trenton Duprè is back for his second year. Also returning on the mound are right-handers Austin Hagy, and Michael Brinska and lefty Aaron Varden. Joining the returning sophomores are transfers Carson McPherson, an Ardmore native who transferred in from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, and Lane Smith, who will spend time in the outfield and on the mound.
“We also have a couple of freshmen that we hope contribute, Jordan Reynolds and Brayden Boyd,” says Crabtree. “Those are the guys on the mound who will have to carry us. Some other guys who will pick up innings but those are the main guys. We expect a lot from them.”
In the field, the Aggies have starting short stop Chase Watt returning for a second year. “He really does a great job playing defense and controlling the field by putting everybody the right spots. He also does a good job for us hitting at the top of the order.”
Crabtree says other key returning sophomores for the team are first baseman Lane Paul, and catcher Jacob Martinez. Paul will serve as relief for Martinez behind the mound.
“Jacob was our starting catcher on the national champion team,” says Crabtree. “He got hurt in the super-regionals and didn’t get to play in the World Series or last year. He’s really good defensively. He’s about 100% healthy, so we are looking for a lot out of him.”
The Aggies adds some new talent in the field as well with incoming freshmen and transfers. Freshman centerfielder Fernando Garcia from Florida, a player Crabtree says has a chance to get drafted into the major league, currently sits at #2 among Division II players with 18 RBIs. Freshman right fielder Joseph Shepherd from Kilgore, Texas is a legacy player. His father played in the minor leagues, and two of his brothers played triple-A ball. Crabtree says transferred third baseman Christian Padilla and left fielder Lane Smith will contribute to the team as well.
“We like our team,” says Crabtree. “Anything can happen. It’s going to come down to our guys buying in, but if everybody does their job we have a pretty good chance to be good.”
Crabtree says the team’s schedule is tough as is always expected. The Aggies play in what is generally considered to be the most competitive conference in Division II of the NJCAA. Along with MSC, Western Oklahoma State, Redlands, and NOC-Enid are consistently ranked in the top ten. The next chance to see the Aggies at home is on Friday, March 6 versus another tough team on the schedule, Iowa Western the defending DI national champions.
The MSC Baseball Field underwent some renovations in the off-season. Three new sets of bleachers, a new concession area, and a press box were added. The seating is now enclosed to provide the feel of stadium seating with a single entrance. A new practice field was also added.
You can find the complete MSC Baseball schedule here.