The Tennessee Tech baseball team looks to bounce back this season after an off-year last season.
“We do things the same every year,” Head Coach Matt Bragga said. “Last year, things didn’t click, and occasionally you’re going to have that.”
The Golden Eagles went 21-32 overall last season and 10-16 in the OVC.
Bragga was asked what the key to getting back to the top of the OVC was.
“What we have this year, that I’m really excited about, is key player leadership,” Bragga said. “I’m really excited from that standpoint; I think the guys have done a great job with that.”
Bragga added, “another key is how do you handle adversity? How do you handle obstacles? The teams that can handle those issues are the teams that win.”
Junior First-baseman Zach Stephens also commented on what will take to win the OVC.
“We all have to do the little things so we can accomplish what we want to as a team,” Stephens said. “I feel so confident in our team and believe in all of our guys to get the job done this year.”
Senior Outfielder Austin Wulf also added what he thinks it will take to win in the conference.
“To win an OVC championship, it’s going to take a lot of hard work, persistence and dedication to reach our goals,” Wulf said. “We have a great group of guys that I love playing with, and I believe this group has a chance to be great.”
Bragga noted that one of the biggest strengths for this year’s team is the depth with position players saying it’s the best the club’s ever had.
“It’s very good depth, we’re a very athletic team,” Bragga said.
Some impact pitchers for the Team this year will be Tristan Archer, David Hess, Jacob Honea and coming out of the bullpen, Seth Lucio.
Archer was the Team’s ace last year, going 4-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 89.0 innings pitched.
“Archer is our returning number one, he’s going to be great for us,” Bragga said. “David Hess was in our weekend rotation last year as a freshman and has had a good fall. Jacob Honea transferred in from Motlow and has had an unbelievable fall.”
“Seth Lucio will be filling in for Cullen Park,” Bragga said. “That’s his role, he could easily start. He has electric stuff and a dynamite arm. I really like this guy.”
The impact position players for Tech this season are first-baseman Zach Stephens, outfielders Austin Wulf and James Abraham, third-baseman Michael Morris, and shortstop Dylan Bosheers.
Stephens led the team last year in every major offensive category with a batting average of .368 with 18 home runs and 52 RBIs.
Abrahams, Morris, and Wulf all had big years at the plate last year, all hitting over .300.
“Zach Stephens is one of the most dynamic hitters I’ve ever coached,” Bragga said. “Austin Wulf is a great leader, he’s had some great years at the plate for us, and James Abraham is one of our captians.”
“Dylan Bosheers started last year at second-base for us,” Bragga said. “He is going to end up being the finest shortstop I’ve ever coached in seventeen years. He works hard, he’s gritty, and, to me, he’s the prototypical shortstop.”
Tech will open their season playing 12 of 13 games at the Averitt Baseball Complex. Those games include home series against two Big Ten teams, Illinois and Michigan State.
“How does the team handle the challenges, obstacles and adversity,” Bragga said. “How do they handle the name across the chest in the other dugout? Do we come into that with, ‘hey, who cares. I don’t care who it is, we’re whooping them,’ or not. Those are things that at this time of year we’ll have to wait and see, but I believe in my heart how we’ll respond to that.”
The Golden Eagles will open February 15 against Illinois at the Averitt Baseball Complex.