Jan. 31, 2012
Louisiana Tech will see a new starting catcher behind the plate with the graduation of Clint Ewing, a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award finalist last season. Ewing was very durable and started in 51 games for the Bulldogs, hitting .259 with two home runs and 19 runs batted in. "Losing Ewing is tough because he was a smart guy and brought leadership to this team," said Simoneaux. "Talent-wise, I don't see a drop-off because all four catchers on our roster are very athletic and capable of becoming leaders on this team."
Sophomore Tyler Qualls will start at catcher in 2012 after starting in 13 games behind the plate last season. He showed great discipline, drawing 13 walks in 60 plate appearances for a .417 on-base percentage. Kyle Arnsberg, a JUCO transfer from McLennan CC, junior Chase Hesson and redshirt freshman Jacob Derouen are fighting for the back-up catcher spot. Arnsberg was named second team all-conference in his only season at McLennan, hitting .319 with 5 home runs, 18 doubles and 34 RBIs. He was drafted in the 40th round by the St. Louis Cardinals. Arnsberg had a great Fall World Series, hitting .444 with one home run and three RBI. He led all Bulldog players with a .545 on base percentage.
The Bulldogs return three starters to a defense that ranked fourth all-time in Tech history with a .962 fielding percentage. Middle infielders Austin Hedges and Ryan Gebhardt will start at second base and shortstop, respectively, while senior Alex Williams returns for his fourth year as the starting first baseman.
Hedges hit .304 in 2011 with 48 hits, 25 runs and two stolen bases in 49 games (43 starts). He, along with Gebhardt, was named to the College Sports Madness Preseason Second Team All-WAC. The junior will also see some time as the designated hitter, giving Taylor Terrasas some time at second base.
After a strong 2010 season that saw Terrasas hit .360, he finished 2011 with a .137 batting average. He played the 2011 season with a broken hand and has fully recovered.
Williams will once again start at first base. Since his freshman season (2009), he has played in 166 of Tech's 169 games and started 162 of them. Williams led the Bulldogs with 53 RBI in 2011 with four home runs from the cleanup spot. He led all Tech players with a .438 batting average, seven hits, two home runs and four RBI in the Fall World Series.
Freshman Bre'shon Kimbell will spell Williams at first base and is likely to begin the season as the team's designated hitter. The Mesquite, Texas native was drafted in the 28th round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers.
With the departure of Mark Threlkeld, junior college transfer Ryan Jones will start at third base with redshirt freshman Beau Bayliss backing him up. "Threlkeld was a big offensive threat at third base and hit in the meat of our order," said head coach Wade Simoneaux. "However, defensively, Jones and Bayliss both do a good job out there. Bayliss had a good fall swinging it and Jones had a great fall defensively. The one that can correct the other side of their game the quickest will get the start out there."
Jones showcased his fielding abilities during the Fall World Series, where he made no errors in the five games. He was named Mesa CC's team MVP after ending the 2011 season with a .320 batting average, 23 RBI and 10 doubles.