UTD’s baseball team is preparing to start the new season with a revamped starting line up.
As the team practices for its first games of the season, a double-header on Feb. 10, it’s looking to fill the starting positions left vacant by graduating seniors. Head coach Shane Shewmake only has three starters returning — the centerfielder, infielder and catcher.
“It’s exciting to have some new faces running around out there,” Shewmake said. “We’ve been practicing for a week now and we’ve seen a lot of good things from the new guys.”
The incoming freshmen are among those competing for the available starting positions. Junior outfielder Josh Covey said his new teammates are promising.
“We’re going to have a younger team, but I think that with the development of our skills and their skills, we’re going to have a pretty good team,” Covey said.
During the offseason, when the coach is not allowed to oversee the players, the team utilized the strength and conditioning program three times per week. This provided an opportunity to work with the newest players before practices started.
“That’s when the upperclassmen leaders step up and they get the younger guys in with them to go throw or hit or do any extra stuff,” Covey said.
With practices officially starting up for the season, Shewmake hasn’t changed much. The system he’s used has led the program to qualify in the ASC tournament for eight straight years.
“You really don’t reinvent the wheel in baseball,” he said.
For Shewmake, one of the best things about the start of the season has been the favorable practice conditions.
“We could be sitting in ice and snow right now and we’ve had seventy degree weather,” Shewmake said. “We’re going to take full advantage of this great weather.”
When looking ahead to their schedule every game matters equally, Covey said.
“I’d like to pinpoint one certain game or one certain series but each one is important as long as we can win each series, win two out of three at least,” he said. “Obviously we’d love to sweep, but two out of three is fine and I think that puts us in a good position.“
The success of the fall sports at UTD, which won three out of five possible ASC championships, has been an extra motivation for the team to do well.
“Obviously the bar is set high, so hopefully we’ll continue to win,” Covey said. “That’s our ultimate goal.”
For Shewmake, seeing the success of the sports that precede baseball in the school year is nothing surprising to him.
“All of our fall sports are always good,” he said. “This isn’t the first year. They’re always putting the pressure on the spring sports, but it’s great. I love to see them have success and hopefully it does motivate our guys a little bit to do that as well.”