The UTD baseball team is planning to build on last year’s successes with a veteran squad and a deep bench.
The Comets, coming off of a 23-10 season with a 15-6 record in conference play, are picked to finish second in the ASC in the preseason polls. They are returning 24 lettermen from last year’s team.
This year’s team consists of mostly juniors and seniors. Head coach Shane Shewmake hopes that this experience will help them win a conference championship.
“Hopefully having been through battles, the guys will understand what it takes to help us win,” Shewmake said.
The team will be counting on strong performances from five returning Comets from last year’s All-ASC squad.
Senior outfielder Caleb Chandler hit .426 last year and belted seven home runs.
David Widaski, a junior outfielder, drove in 49 runs last season while batting .385.
Shewmake is also counting on the leadership of senior third baseman Mike Biguenet and junior left-handed pitcher Kevin McKnight.
Shewmake said he feels the team has a legitimate shot at the conference championship and hopes that their success can continue on a national level.
“When we play, I feel like we’re going to win every game. Our goal is to win a conference championship,” Shewmake said.
The Comets begin the season on Feb. 17 at Southwestern University and will open up home play on Feb. 21 against Texas Wesleyan.
The Comet softball team is expecting to make a strong showing in conference play this year with a blend of veteran leadership and young talent.
The team returns eight members from last year’s winning season, all of whom were integral parts of the team.
Among those returning are sophomore pitcher Stephanie Herrera, who was awarded with the ASC Freshman of the Year honors last season, and senior Candace Felts, last season’s leading hitter.
Head coach Tricia Hoffmann is also excited about the new members of team and the talent that they bring to the program.
“For the most part, all of our newcomers have stepped up to the plate,” Hoffmann said.
These underclassmen are primed to compete for playing time with the returning members, something that Hoffmann predicts will only make the team better.
“[The underclassmen] have pushed themselves and the returners to up their level of play,” Hoffmann said.
“They are a real positive influence,” she said.
If the Comets improve on their success from last year, they should contend for a spot in the postseason tournament and also the conference championship.
“The girls are very motivated,” Hoffmann said. “They really see all the pieces coming together.
“They have it in their mind that they will vie for a championship,” she said.
The team opened its season on Feb. 13 at Mary Hardin-Baylor and will play its first home game Feb. 28 against Texas Lutheran.