By Ryan Tillman
The Sewanee baseball team capped off their four-week fall practice schedule this past November with a diversified team dynamic and a renewed sense of optimism for the upcoming spring season. The Tigers will work on improving from a disappointing 2016 where they posted a bleak 5-35 overall record with just four conference wins.
Embarking on the third year under the leadership of head coach David Jenkins and assistant coach Philip Betterly, the Tigers brought in a recruiting class that holds 13 freshman poised and prepared to make an immediate impact on the field. Quality of character and playing ability were factors the coaches took into consideration throughout the recruitment process.
Team Captain Jackson Cooper (C’17) stated, “We had a lot of young guys develop over the fall season and I’m excited to see them compete in the spring. This team is going to be relentless and I’m thrilled to be able to be a part of a team composed of a great group of men.”
Hunger for playing time in the upcoming season added a heightened sense of competition among the team throughout fall practice. “When I saw the potential that this freshman class and team possesses as a whole, it made me want to work that much harder to help this team win ballgames in the spring,” said Max Murray (C’20) upon arriving to the Mountain. Murray is just one of many newcomers who bring a fresh energy for the game that is made evident in their work ethic and play.
Coach Jenkins saw direct results from the intensity his team brought to the field, saying, “We’ve had more consistent play and focus. Our pitchers did a great job of making adjustments and commanding pitches in the strike zone. Our hitters had better approaches and controlled aggression.”
The Tigers will have roughly two months to polish their skills until their opening series on February 4 at LaGrange College. The offseason will be crucial for preparing to compete in a Southern Athletic Association with a perennial top 25 team in Birmingham-Southern and the consistent offensive powerhouse of Rhodes.
“If you prepare well enough and consistently work at your game, you will have confidence. I really believe those two things (preparation and confidence) are synonymous, and we’ve done a much better job in the offseason to be ready,” said Jenkins.