As The Tigers prepare for the upcoming season, long time head coach Daron Schoenrock will be leaving the team after this season.
Schoenrock, who became the head coach of the Tigers in 2005, decided to step away after the 2022 season.
“We are just thrilled to be on the field and preparing for this 2022 season," Schoenrock said. "A lot of work has gone into this, and the guys are chomping at the bit to get going.”
The 60-year-old coach holds a record of 437-504.
The announcement of retirement did come as a surprise to some of the Tigers. Despite the news, the players plan to give it their all to send Coach Rock, as they call him, out on top.
“It was a little tough, [I was] in shock," sophomore catcher Taylor Howell said. "We kind of knew that it might be coming so we are going to play it for him.”
Last year, Memphis finished the season 18-39 (9-25 in Conference play) which was the worst in the American Conference. The Tigers need to improve all around the field to send Schoenrock out with a winning season.
“Last year, things didn’t go how we wanted, the four-game weekends hit us hard,” said starting pitcher Carson Stinnet.
At the top of their improvement list, the Tigers need to win games away from FedEx Park. Memphis sported a 3-21 record when traveling, a large contributor to their 18-39 total record. This was the worst season the Tigers had when traveling to opponent’s stadiums. At home, Memphis was respectable posting a 13-16 record and went .500 at a neutral site (2-2).
Offensively, the Tigers had some highs as a team. The team lead the American Conference in home runs, with 39 in total, along with walking to first base 135 times, good for second behind UCF. While the power is there for Memphis, they will be looking to improve at the plate. The team's batting average was .233 which was the second lowest in the Conference. Although striking out 258 conference batters last season – placing Memphis in the middle of the AAC – the Tigers gave up a woeful 7.24 runs per game and 372 hits, the worst in the conference.
But giving up hits is not where the Tigers' woes end. Pitchers walked a conference high 148 batters during the 2021 season.
Despite last season's performances, the Tigers are optimistic and don’t feel the pressure coming from their coach’s announcement.
“We've got three good starting pitchers that can contribute, and we got a lot of hitters, top to bottom, that don’t strike out a lot and put the ball in play to put pressure on the defense,” Connor Shamblin, the junior transfer from Alabama, said.
With the departure of their coach on the horizon, players are coming into the year ready to roll with the punches.
“We have a so be it mentality, and we are all in," Howell said. "We are playing for Coach Rock and having fun. This year, players and coaches are a lot more connected and that will help us this year.”
The Tigers kick off the season Friday when they host Valparaiso. First pitch is 2 pm at FedEx Park Avron/Fogleman Field. Shamblin will start for the Tigers on the mound and will be facing off against Valparaiso's starting pitcher, Trent Turzenski.
Coach Daron Schoenrock answering questions heading into the 2022 season. He has confirmed that this season will be his last at the helm.