Frank Ramirez headshot

Sports reporter Frank Ramirez

Overall, the University of Memphis baseball team is better than what their record reflects at the moment. Currently standing at an 11-12 record, the team is fresh off a 9-6 loss to No. 21 Ole Miss in a game that saw 25 combined runs from both squads, and Memphis could’ve won if it weren’t for defensive miscues that came back to haunt them as the game progressed. Nonetheless, they have the tools to have their first winning season since 2017 when they went 30-29.

Don’t judge by their record

In the end, the Tigers have improved compared to what they were last season through 23 games. Last season they had eight wins and 15 losses, and while they only have three more losses compared to last year, they are showing more drive.

Head coach Daron Schoenrock said he wasn’t fazed by his team’s progress so far this season, and he said he has confidence in his team despite their current record.

“I’ve got a lot of belief in this team and what they’ve become,” Schoenrock said. “There are good things coming from this team.”

Santana and Denz vs Ole Miss

Jason Santana gives words of encouragement to Danny Denz after pitching a tough inning. Denz pitched two innings allowing two hits and throwing four strikeouts. 

What is not good

The team struggles to bring in runs. They have only gotten double-digit scoring three times this season. While bringing in runs isn’t the most important thing in baseball, they are second-to-last in the American Athletic Conference allowing a combined 4.86 ERA currently.

Fielding has been an issue for the Tigers as they have ranked seventh out of nine teams in the conference in team fielding. Memphis hasn’t been able to record enough assists to get the necessary outs in innings where there could’ve been three-and-outs. They are last in the conference with 171 assists. This was the case when they played against Ole Miss. Errors brought runs against the team in and added to pitch counts during innings.

Players know they can make clutch defensive plays, but mistakes happen like when Jason Santana missed a flyout with two outs that eventually allowed three runs to score for the Rebels in the inning.

“It’s a tough play, but I make that play nine out of ten times,” Santana said.

Celebration 2 vs Ole Miss

Alex Smith (pointing) celebrates after the Tigers’ offensive burst in the second inning against Ole Miss. Memphis faced Ole Miss in their only game at AutoZone Park this season.

What is good

When a team can give up four runs and respond with four runs of their own in the same inning, it means they aren’t disheartened easily. Besides heart, they’ve got Hunter Goodman who is batting a .333 and is second in the conference with 10 doubles as a freshman. He also leads Memphis with 34 hits and has 17 hits in his last 19 games.

Senior Alex Hicks is a rock in their rotation on the mound because he has a 2.83 ERA in 35 innings (most innings pitched on the team). He also has 38 strikeouts on his résumé. Building onto their bullpen will be crucial for this team as the season goes on.

What’s next?

Memphis will resume conference play March 29 at 6 p.m. at FedExPark against Houston. The Tigers are out for revenge after they were swept in a three-game series last season in Houston. Santana is one of the many players driven by last season’s sweep and said he is looking for a series win this weekend.

“I do not like them, and there’s going to be a fire under our butts to get this game,” Santana said after Tuesday night’s loss.  “I wish Friday was tomorrow, and we’re going to win two out of three for sure if not three.”

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