Sept. 28, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - The ping has returned to the Uptown campus, for the fall at least, and the Tulane baseball team will officially begin their fall workouts on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. The Green Wave has announced that their fall slate will run from Oct. 4 through Nov. 8, with the festivities concluding with a three-game Fall World Series.
It is always hard for the winter and spring sport athletes to arrive on campus in August and then have to wait to workout with their respective coaching staffs, per NCAA regulations. The 2012 edition of the Green Wave baseball roster, however, have taken it on their own shoulders to run some voluntary, player driven, sessions in the Hack Shack, on the turf at Turchin Stadium and even in the weight room.
"We are all really anxious to get started," said senior Jeremy Schaffer, "we know that we have a lot to prove this year. You talk about last year, we obviously (graduated) some big pitchers from our staff, but we feel that with the guys we've brought in, including the guys that came back after injuries, that we're going to be able to overcome that as a team. When you bring in guys that are supposed to come in right away and play, both on the staff and the lineup, then obviously everyone's going to be really excited and we've seen people hit on the field, we've seen bull pens, but once the inner squads really start that's where you can really see people's competitive nature and how they are in actual game situation. I'm excited to see that."
The fall schedule will feature a variety of workouts, practices and intra-squad contest that will give the coaching staff an opportunity to see the players in a competitive atmosphere. The team will receive instruction five days each week, with Wednesday and Sunday acting as off days from organized team activities.
Tulane got off to a quick start in 2011, winning 16 of their first 20 games, but a litany of injuries, coupled with an almost anemic offense was not a good combination down the stretch and the Olive and Blue eventually saw their season end at the Conference USA Tournament in Jackson, Miss. Overall in 2011, Tulane posted a record of 31-26, finished 10-14 overall in C-USA and won one of their three contests at the conference tournament.
In the field, head coach Rick Jones brings back seven of his nine every day players, including three-year starting catcher Jeremy Schaffer and two-year starters Brandon Boudreaux, Garrett Cannizaro, Blake Crohan and Brennan Middleton. Schaffer started all 57 games last season - the only TU player to start every game - and led the team with a .338 batting average and 37 RBI's to earn First Team All-Conference USA. Nick Schneeberger will enter his second season with the Green Wave and was the only other player to end the season with an average over .300 (hitting .301) and he drove in 35 RBI's.
Tulane will enter the fall at almost full strength on the mound - with a few minor dings still resonating from last season's infirmary - but bring back just one pitcher that started more than ten games a season ago. Alex Byo started ten games, making 12 total appearances, and the Olive and Blue have four other arms in their bullpen that made at least 17 appearances. Alex Byo (3-2, 3.23 ERA), Alex Facundus (8-2, 3.43), Andrew Garner (2-1, 5.40), David Napoli (1-3, 3.86) and D.J. Ponder (3-1, 4.18) return to anchor the pitching staff, while Randy LeBlanc (0-0, 2.87) and Kyle McKenzie (2-2, 463) suffered injuries a season ago, but should be ready to go by the beginning of the 2012 slate.
"(I've seen) more of an attentive approach to practice," said junior Brennan Middleton. "Everyone coming in on their off days and, on game days, guys were coming before and staying after. Everyone was just trying to get better. Most of what I saw was players staying loose during the game. I know we're kind of uptight here sometimes and can get pretty serious, but guys were just being relaxed and having fun and that needs to be the atmosphere here more so than it has been in the last two years. I think it will be (like that) this season."
You can follow the entire fall schedule by clicking here.