Jan. 28, 2011
RUSTON, La. - In what was a picturesque afternoon, the Louisiana Tech baseball team took to the diamond at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park Friday for the first spring practice of the 2011 season.
"It's great to have the sunshine because it had been awfully cold and rainy the past few weeks as we were trying to do skill work and conditioning," said ninth-year head coach Wade Simoneaux. "We were definitely anxious to get out here and get everything started and it was good to see that sun out today."
The Bulldogs began Friday's practice session with individual position work and batting practice before moving on to the first of several intrasquad scrimmages over the next three weeks.
Offensively, Tech returns seven position starters and four all-WAC performers to a squad that shattered four program records and hit at a .363 clip against conference opponents last season.
Amongst the top returnees, the offense will feature four players that hit 10-plus home runs and drove in 40-plus runs apiece last season, led by junior Mark Threlkeld who hit .335 and belted 14 home runs and drove in 62 runs in 2010.
"There has been a lot of talk about the new bats (BBCOR) being watered down but we're not concerned about that," said Simoneaux. "We have some guys that are confident in their abilities and we feel really confident about our offense going into the season."
The biggest question mark entering the 2011 campaign is the Bulldog pitching staff which was riddled with injuries last season.
As a team, Tech had a combined 7.33 ERA while walking 283 batters. However, Tech returns seven pitchers that tossed 15.0-plus innings and gained valuable experience towards the end of last season.
Trevor Petersen and southpaw Mike Jefferson are expected to anchor the front of the weekend rotation while Jeb Stefan and Graham Meyers are projected as the third and fourth starter for Tech. Both Stefan and Meyers are recovering from injuries sustained last season and have progressed quite well in the offseason.
"We're just very excited about the approaching season," said senior catcher Clint Ewing. "We struggled off and on last year with some injuries and we're starting to get some key guys back."
"Everything is rolling offensively and we have a lot of confidence in our pitching staff coming into this season. We're just really looking forward to getting out there and playing so we can see what we can do."
Tech opens the 2011 season on Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. as the Bulldogs host Southern Illinois as part of the Louisiana Tech Baseball Classic. For information on season tickets, visit www.LATechSports.com.
For complete coverage of Bulldog Baseball, please visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com and follow sports information contact, Austin Staton, on Twitter for the latest and most current news.