Will Tallent/ The Paisano
Embarkingon their 21st season, the UTSA baseball team says goodbye to a conference – andmore importantly – to a head coach. Since 1992, UTSA baseball has been part ofthe Southland Conference and during that time, won four conferencechampionships, two of which (2007, 2008) were under the guidance of longtime headcoach, Sherman Corbett. Corbett resigned last May after taking over the programin 2001.
Despitethese major changes, UTSA baseball is still in familiar hands. In his firstofficial season as head coach, Jason Marshall is no stranger to Roadrunnerbaseball. Marshall’s UTSA career began alongside Corbett in 2001 and has been servingas an assistant coach for 12 seasons. Marshall is optimistic about the futureof the program after experiencing firsthand some difficult stretches of UTSAbaseball.
“Lookingahead, I like our team this year from the standpoint we have a lot of guysreturning,” Marshall said. “I think we are at least in a starting spot to wherewe feel good about our team moving forward into this season.”
UTSAhas fresh hope that is much needed after three straight losing seasons. TheRoadrunners finished with a 22-32 overall record in 2012 and an 11-21 record inSouthland Conference play. All in all, the team dealt with some nagginginjuries that altered the lineups and rotations, making it difficult to findconsistency on the field.
The‘Runners won’t have much turnover on this year’s team, as they have 21returningletter who are determined to right the ship.
“Our strength is inour leadership and work ethic,” Marshall said. “Our achievement this year willbe on [the players’] ability to improve and to prove that they are worthy to bea champion.”
Asa team, UTSA hit .270 with a .378 slugging percentage and .341 on basepercentage. The offense should flourish this season with the return of junior outfielderRiley Good, who was leading the nation in hits before suffering an arm injurythat forced him to miss almost half the season. Also returning is senior outfielderDaniel Rockett, who hit .266 with five home runs.
“Wehave a group of hitters that have a lot of potential,” Marshall said. “I reallythink this could be our breakout year.”
Thekey turn around for UTSA will be in improving a pitching staff that finishedwith a conference high 5.58 team era. The ‘Runners will need junior MichaelKraft to continue his improvement following a strong year at 8-6 with 53 strikeouts.
“MichaelKraft is a significant guy,” Marshall said. “He will return as our ‘FridayNight Guy.’ He has a competitive streak about his demeanor, and he loves to getafter the opponent and does not like to lose.”
TheRoadrunners swept their opening series against Air Force. It’s the first timesince 2010 the ‘Runners started the season undefeated. The ‘Runners begin afour-game road trip on Feb. 20, against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.