Tulane baseball head coach David Pierce and his staff had their first opportunity to meet with their student-athletes on Wednesday afternoon
NEW ORLEANS - With classes underway at Tulane University, the Green Wave baseball program held their first meeting of the season on Wednesday afternoon, giving new head coach David Pierce and his staff an opportunity to meet with the returning players as well as the new faces that will don the Olive and Blue for the 2015 season.
Many of the student-athletes returned to New Orleans after productive summers in collegiate baseball leagues across the nation, while others came back to the Big Easy after recouping from a long, strenuous 2014 campaign. The entire group of student-athletes met with key athletic department personnel before individually introducing themselves to their teammates and new coaching staff. Shortly thereafter, Pierce and his staff of Sean Allen, Philip Miller, Phil Haig and Brian Meyer had the opportunity to discuss the expectations for fall practice and the upcoming season.
"For the last two months, we have been waiting for today," stated Pierce. "The excitement of seeing all of the players back on campus and knowing that we are getting closer to having the opportunity to work with this team, while watching their development and chemistry together, is what we are really here for."
Starting Thursday, the team will begin conditioning before moving into individual workouts early next week. The squad will open fall practice on Sept. 15. At that point, Pierce and his staff will have the chance to see their players in live action for the first time.
Returning to the Green Wave for the 2015 season are infield stalwarts Garrett Deschamp, Stephen Alemais, Hunter Hope and Jake Willsey. Hope, a sophomore at the hot corner, led the team last year with a .269 batting average while ranking second on the team in home runs (three) and RBI (25). Deschamp, the lone senior on the team who played in more than half of the team's games last season, was second on the team in hitting with a .266 average, but his 32 RBI paced the squad.
Alemais and Willsey, both sophomores, made up the middle of the infield during the 2014 season. Both are coming off solid summer league performances, as Alemais hit .312 with 28 stolen bases and 25 RBI for the Bethesda Big Train of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League while Willsey batted .286 with six doubles and 15 RBI for the Futures Collegiate League's Brockton Rox.
In the outfield, Tulane returns sophomore Grant Brown, junior Richard Carthon - who is spending his fall in his third season with the Tulane football team - and sophomore Lex Kaplan. Brown came on strong towards the end of 2014 campaign, while Carthon's .258 batting average ranked third on the team. Kaplan made 37 starts on the season in 2014, and he helped lead the St. Louis Dodgers to the St. Louis Metro Collegiate League Championship this summer.
Behind the dish, sophomore Jake Rogers returns to the Green Wave after ranking in the top-15 in the nation in throwing runners out last season with 23. Only one other freshman in the NCAA last year - UC-Riverside's Matthew Ellis - threw out more runners during the 2014 season.
While Tulane lost two starting pitchers in Tyler Mapes and Randy LeBlanc in addition to reliever Kyle McKenzie to the MLB First-Year Player Draft in June, Tulane has a plethora of arms returning to the squad. Corey Merrill, who was the Friday night starter during the tail end of the 2014 season, is returning for his sophomore season. Redshirt junior Alex Massey, sophomores J.P. France and Zach Flowers and junior Emerson Gibbs - all of whom made starts on the season in 2014 - are also returning.
In the bullpen, former freshman All-American Ian Gibaut will hold down the fort in his junior year alongside fellow relievers Dan Rankin, Jordan Gross and Tyler Zamjahn. Tim Yandel, who was solely used as a reliever for the Bethesda Big Train this summer, should also see significant time out of the bullpen this season.
The Green Wave also return senior John Gandolfo, redshirt freshman Sam Bjorngjeld, junior Cameron Burns, sophomore Hunter Williams, senior Tyler Wilson and junior Matt Braud, all of whom provide depth to the bench. Junior Troy Ward, who logged an inning of work in last year's season opener, also returns to the squad.
In addition to the new faces on the coaching staff, joining the returning players are a slew of talented incomers, including nine true freshman, one redshirt sophomore, two juniors and one senior.
Nico Symington, Sam Martin, Brandon Sequeira, Brandon Issa and Jackson Johnson are all true freshman who were announced as part of the 2015 signing class last November. Additionally, redshirt sophomore Eric Steel and junior Patrick Duester - both of whom pitched at St. John's River State during the last two years - are joining the team after being announced as additions in November.
Pierce and his staff have added a few names since joining the program, as well, as freshmen Rainer Ausmus, Max Karp, Nick Nemeth and Jake Crain will join the Green Wave during fall practice. Additionally, two transfers in Jeremy Montalbano (Texas) and Trevor Simms (West Virginia) will join the fray, although neither will be able to compete in 2015 due to transfer rules.
After the conclusion of fall practice, the team will hold their annual Green and Blue World Series, with exact dates yet to be determined.
"I think there is some talent (on the roster)," added Pierce. "We have to mesh some new guys with some existing guys, and we have to see how healthy we are on the mound. I think that is going to be key for determining how much we get to intrasquad throughout the fall."
Additionally, the Tulane coaching staff has announced that walk-on tryouts will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 9 at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium starting at 6pm CT.
In order to be eligible to participate, all potential student-athletes must meet each of the following criteria: Each athlete must be accepted to Tulane University, must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours for the current semester, must be registered and cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse and must have a physical from your physician prior to the first day of tryouts with proper documentation to give to our Athletic Training Staff.
Also, if you are already a student at Tulane University you must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher in order to eligible for competition and practice.
All potential student-athletes are invited to tryout, however, it does not guarantee a spot on the roster. The number of open roster positions and the team's needs ultimately decide if you are invited to be part of the Tulane University baseball program.
You should contact Director of Baseball Operations Brian Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org prior to the tryout to receive paperwork.
Fans can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.