University of Memphis baseball will come back Friday as the young, but veteran team from the 901 returns to action against the Xavier Musketeers. They will kick off opening weekend on Valentine’s Day at FedEx Park.
This season will be a new and hopefully revamped style of play for the Tigers. Most of the players and coaches that were on last the team last year would like to forget the last season's losing record of 27-28 and a 10-13 conference record.
Nevertheless, this is a brand-new season and a lot of players, including Hunter Goodman, had positive things to say when talking about this year’s team during Baseball Media Day.
“I don’t try to put the pressure on myself,” Goodman said. “I know I have a lot of good teammates this year, and we are trying to build a culture here.
Goodman talked a lot about the word “culture” because he wants this team to make some noise this year and turn the program around. The Arlington native also talked about the fans, and how it is important for the team to play well so they can attract more people to the stadium.
“I hope a lot of people take it in,” Goodman said. “We as a team have to go out there and win games and get more people to come to games.”
A lot of scoring left the team last year, but Head Coach Daron Schoenrock believes that there are some guys that can hit the ball and produced runs.
“We had a number of seniors in the lineup, in the everyday position player lineup that are gone now,” Schoenrock said during the team's media day. “There wasn’t a lot of foot speed last year, but now, we’re a little more multi-faceted and we got some base stealers, some bunters, some runners in the lineup."
Memphis is playing a Xavier team that struggled mightily on the road last season, going just 15-21 in 2019. The Musketeers will be without their star player from last year in Connor Grammes. He was selected in the fifth-round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Grammes led the team in batting average with .330 and led in homeruns with 75.
The Musketeers also lost the two guys who were right under them in terms of batting average in Chris Givin and Jake Shepski. One returning guy that was top five in batting average for the Musketeers is sophomore infielder Jack Housinger. Housinger batted a .275 average, 21 RBI’s (Runs Batted In) and a slugging percentage of .357.
Xavier has a lot of new guys on their team that will be asked to do a lot of tasks for them to achieve a winning season.
The Tigers will definitely have an edge in terms of experience and guys who can smack the ball. Guys like Alec Trela and Ben Brooks return for Memphis. Both guys batted over .275 and recorded over 20 RBI’s.
Chris Durham returns to most likely be the lead guy in the bullpen as well. Last season he went 4-4, had an ERA of 3.98 and fanned over 75 batters.
Memphis will look to start the season with a 3-0 sweep of the young Musketeers but look for Xavier to steal one if the Tigers come out with cold bats.
The series will continue after Valentine’s Day on Saturday at 2 p.m. and concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m.