Tarleton Baseball Season Preview 2017
Sean Hargrove —
The 2017 Tarleton State University Texan baseball season’s opening series is approaching Feb 3, but opening weekend isn’t what’s on Coach Congers mind.
When the Texans baseball team steps foot on Cecil Ballow field for the first game this spring on Friday afternoon against Arlington Baptist, fans won’t see very many familiar faces. Over 25 new players have joined Tarleton’s baseball program this past off-season, and Coach Conger believes this class will have a major impact on this season as only one starter from last year will be returning.
Conger said, “We’re gonna be breaking in a lot of new guys this year, and we’re talented, but we’ve never played together, so, it will probably take us some time to figure out how to play together as a team.”
A roster filled with new players trying to mesh, Conger says the team’s strength is in their overall physicality.
“With this team, we’re bigger faster and stronger than we’ve been in years, and we’ve talked to them a lot about how their biggest challenge is going to be their ability to handle adversity, it won’t be a physical issue with this group.”
The Texans finished 20-28 last season and have worked hard during the off-season to improve, all while implementing those improvements into all the new players. Congers’ main purpose this offseason was to upgrade overall and to bring the talent level back to where it has been.
“On the baseball field, in the fall, it was about getting all the new guys up to speed and up to par with the way we want to do things, and in the weight room [by] working on getting bigger, faster and stronger. It was kind of refreshing as a coaching staff. It was kind of, I wouldn’t say ‘starting over’ but with so many new faces, there was so much to teach that every day was an awesome opportunity to teach and learn.”
The Texans will be led by returning designated hitter/first baseman and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association All 1st Team Regional slugger Jake Hasbrouck. Conger says his “overall game has really improved, and he has a chance to have a great spring.” Conger believes Outfielder Francisco Rodriguez (opening day starter, .390/7 Home runs s at Vernon College) has an opportunity to be a big player for the Texans. Although these two will have large impacts on the team, the Texans have a lot of depth along with them.
“We have more depth on this team than we’ve had in recent years, and as the season plays out, we’re going to see (on the mound), a good mix and just taking time and innings to see who takes the Friday guy, who takes the Saturday guy, and who takes the Sunday guy, but I think Eddie Avila in the closing role is going to be good for us. He’s got some special stuff.”
Conger described liking to take every game as it comes, by sticking with the team’s goal of having the best practice, pitch, at-bat, etc. they can have at that time.
“With us and our program, all of them. What we’re going to do today (at practice) and what we told them yesterday, and what we will continually preach. Our focus is about today, we aren’t worried about ‘opening day’ or anything, our goal is to have the best practice, and when we get to the game, our goal is not necessarily to win opening day, it’s to have the best batting practice we can have before a game, and when we get into the game we’re gonna take it one pitch at a time, and when we get really good at that concept, we will look up at the end of the day and we’ll see where we are at and see what tweaks we need to make and what adjustments we need to make,” Conger said.
Conger’s coaching techniques have always been one of not only physical, but mental strength. He strives to instill this in his program and takes every aspect of the game in segments by pushing each player to continually strive to compete not against the other team, but against themselves as players.
“As far as a schedule goes, we’re gonna have a tough schedule and we look forward to competing against everyone on our schedule, but those familiar with our program know that we’re gonna preach all the time that we’re gonna compete against ourselves and something that we’ve pushed with this group is (the Greek phrase) ‘Arete’ which means the highest version of yourself. So, our goal, every time we play, no matter who is in the other dugout is simply to compete against the highest version of yourself. We look at it as, ‘it’s us against the rep’ the opposing team is providing a rep for us, it’s a competition obviously, but they’re providing a rep for us and we’re competing against that rep that they provide, and at that rep, are we at the highest version of yourself? and we as a group, if we can get to that – we’re gonna be pretty good this year.”
Texans take on Arlington Baptist on February 3rd at 1 p.m. at Cecil Ballow field in Stephenville, TX. They will continue the series on the 4th with a double header starting at 1 p.m. and the second game scheduled to start at 3 p.m.