Baseball preview: season opens with potential
After finishing the 2019 season with an overall record of 43-19, the Tech baseball team is primed to make yet another appearance in the NCAA tournament during the 2020 season. Head coach Danny Hall just received a contract extension through 2023 following the Jackets’ best season since 2011, during which they surpassed the 40-win mark for the first time in the program’s history.
Aside from a stellar coaching staff, the talent that Hall has brought in year after year proves his ability to recruit — a trait which Tech has seen in action quite a bit lately with Coach Collins and the football team on the hunt. Hall’s recruiting ability is not limited to his players, but also extends to his new coaches. Last season, Hall brought hitting coach James Ramsey to the Flats after Ramsey, a former student-athlete at Florida State University, closed out a successful professional career.
To start off the new decade, the Tech team was ranked No. 19 by D1Baseball among Division I teams across the country. This ranking can be attributed to the depth of the team, especially with the addition of freshmen which comprised the No. 4 best recruiting class in the country this past year. This is the second consecutive year that the Jackets have pulled in such a prestigious recruiting class, which bodes well for the upcoming season in terms of progression and growth. Furthermore, the Jackets will see the return of redshirt senior pitcher Andy Archer following a season out due to injury. There is no doubt that Archer will be returning to the field with the fire that comes with being forced to sit out a year.
Seemingly unrelated on a surface level, but still an essential portion of player performance, Russ Chandler Stadium was crowned with the “Field of the Year” award for its “playability, appearance and utilization of innovative solutions” according to ramblinwreck.com. While it is Tech’s third time receiving this award, it is only the second time for Russ Chandler Stadium, bolstering the idea that Tech’s program provides the best environment for its players — a sure sticking point for Hall when it comes to recruiting. As the only baseball facility to receive the award in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Russ Chandler Stadium holds bragging rights that are untouchable by competitors.
Speaking of competitors, the Jackets will face off against some of the same highly ranked opponents that the team faced in the NCAA tournament last year, providing necessary learning experiences early in the season. It will be interesting to watch and see which freshmen snatch up the opportunity to compete on a higher level when given the chance. Seven of the ten incoming freshmen are from Georgia, and all of them come with their own sets of accolades that they will carry onto campus. Each player has some sort of All-America honor, but the young group will need to quickly step up to fill the shoes of the Jackets that were selected in the MLB Draft last year. Aside from the freshmen, expect returning standouts such as juniors Luke Waddell, Michael Guldberg and Baron Radcliff to execute well on the field.
The Jackets kick off their spring season on Valentine’s Day against the Saint Peter’s Peacocks before swinging into their first multi-day match-up against Ohio State a week later. Tech’s team is on the young side this year, but Coach Hall has certainly proven himself as a coach.