Pioneers baseball team continues win streak

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team has won 11 games in a row, as of March 4. Most recently, the Pioneers swept a three-game series against Columbia State, March 3-4.

Collin Hopkins, catcher, commented on the streak that the Pioneers are on.

“It is preparation for conference play. We need momentum for the games that truly matter. We have that fluff,” said Hopkins.

With the 11-game win streak, the Pioneers are second in the TCCAA with a record of 11-3, behind Walters State with a record of 19-3.

“If we win the conference series we are going to be in a better position for the playoffs. A good playoff spot will help us out in the postseason,” said Raul Mercado, an outfielder and native of the Dominican Republic.

Applying Mercado’s comment, Hopkins seconded what his teammate said on how the conference games matter more than they appear.

“For a sweep, it would be better to get a conference sweep,” said Hopkins.

Despite sweeping a team that is out of state, Hopkins is seeking to win conference games and more importantly maybe sweep some in-conference teams this season.

Jason Barrett, assistant coach, spoke on the win streak and conference games that are beginning.

“It certainly gives us more confidence after starting 0-3. It doesn’t mean a whole lot going into the conference season. The conference season is what really matters the most. It was a chance to get good confidence back,” said Barrett.

The Pioneers will play Dyersburg State and Walters State in the next three weeks. All opponents are in the same conference, and nine games will be played between March 9-17. The only non-conference team played in this span is Joliet College on March 12-13.

“No matter who you are playing you still have to play the game. You still have to get outs. You still have to defend,” said Logan Maloney, assistant coach.

Ryan Hunt, head coach, called the conference teams “powerhouses” for how much depth each team has.

“You need depth, especially to battle in this conference,” said Barrett.

“We got to make the simple plays. No matter who we play, you don’t necessarily prepare differently for each team because then you are losing track of the goal that you are trying to do, and that’s just winning,” said Maloney.

Hopkins commented on whether he thinks the streak will continue.

“There’s no telling. Baseball is baseball. You could be the better team and lose any day,” said Hopkins.

The Pioneers will go to Dyersburg, Tennessee, March 9, and play a weekend series.

“We can do whatever we put our minds to. Keep the guys focused on one day at a time,” said Maloney.

 

Vol State Pioneers ready to face off against Columbia this weekend

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team is in the midst of a five-game winning streak since beating Lake Land College, Moraine Valley Community College, and Cumberland University’s JV team.  

The 5-3 Pioneers have now made it over .500 and hope to keep their record that way.

“It feels good. Finally over .500, especially starting 0-3. Hopefully we keep this going,” said Ryan Hunt, head coach of the team.

Hunt commented on his team’s offensive play during the Feb. 20 doubleheader against Cumberland University’s JV team.

“Looking for some guys to be more consistent with the bat. We have some guys really struggling offensively, and hopefully that gets better because it’s still early,” he said.

The Pioneers did have high scoring games against Cumberland, but Hunt still thinks the game could have gone differently.

“We didn’t do what we thought we’d do. They helped us out with some errors and that’s how we scored most of the runs,” he said.

After the doubleheader, the Pioneers had won five straight games and were in fifth place in the conference.

Hunt did comment on the successful run, saying that “pitching was really [good].

“Anytime you get a couple of wins is always good. Anytime you win five in a row it feels good no matter who you are playing,” he said.

Baylor Steelman, sophomore leadoff hitter and outfielder, commented on how the nearing conference games would go.

“It’s gonna be huge. It will be hard against all conference teams. We have to go out there and give it all we got.” Baylor said. “I hope to not think too much and just hit more line drives to be a better player.”

Since the start of the 2018 season, Steelman has been the Pioneers leadoff man (the first hitter). “This is my first year that I’ve led off. I’m starting to get used to it,” said Steelman, who went 0-1 with two walks against Cumberland Feb. 20.

With the regular season in play, the positions on defense and offense have been locked up. “There’s already a few guys who have solidified their position. Still waiting on a few guys to produce with the bat,” said Hunt.

The everyday starters are still in the mix for final decisions that Coach Hunt will make, and Steelman believes he is a solidified guy where he is.

“I think I have played good enough to earn the starting spot in center field. I have to keep working hard and not lose it,” said Steelman.

The Pioneers will soon travel to Columbia State University to take on the Chargers, who are 5-6-1, as of Feb. 22. Columbia defeated Chipola College in Chipola, Florida, Sunday, Feb. 18, 12-8.

“It’ll be tough playing Columbia at their place. They just beat the preseason number one team in the country in Chipola,” said Hunt.

“It is going to be a hard fought battle, but we can win it though,” said Steelman confidently about going to Columbia.

The Pioneers will travel to Columbia this weekend, March 2-3. Three games will be played. One on Friday and two on Saturday. The games will be live streamed on The Settler’s Twitter page, @TheSettler. Friday’s game is at 2 p.m., and Saturday’s games are at noon and 2:30 p.m.

Vol State is 220 paved parking spots short

 

Photo by Lauren Whitaker

Photo by Lauren Whitaker

By Lauren Whitaker

Volunteer State Community College is 220 paved parking spots short for the number of students who attend the college.

“This past year, well it was about a two-year process, we worked with a design and architectural firm out of Atlanta called TSW to do a master facility plan. One of the things they look at is a formula to determine how many parking spaces you should have,” said Dr. Jerry Faulkner, president of Vol State. “They came back and said we should have more parking spaces on this campus.”

During this evaluation by TSW, paved parking was the only parking considered. The two gravel overflow parking lots were not taken into account.

“I don’t know the exact number the gravel lots have. Where the gravel lots do not have lines, it’s hard to get an exact number,” Faulkner said.

Vol State plans to pave the two gravel overflow parking lots in the future.

The Tennessee Reconnect program goes into effect August 2018 at Vol State. The Reconnect program is one designed to allow adult students to go back to school tuition-free. Vol State expects an increase in students when the program begins.

“We believe a lot of these returning students are going to be students that work during the day. They will be interested in evening classes and online classes, and we are even planning to have Saturday classes to accommodate those students,” Faulkner said. “I don’t think we will have a significant parking issue.”

During the first semester of the Tennessee Promise students, Vol State addressed the parking issue by having students park in grass areas as needed. This plan will be reactivated if needed, said Faulkner.

“We can’t do that all the time because as the fall comes and the winter comes, people would get stuck,” Faulkner said.

Current students who arrive to school around mid-morning find parking to be difficult.

“I decided to take earlier classes on Tuesday and Thursday because I didn’t want to spend so much time searching for a parking space,” said Sarah Hall, a sophomore at Vol State.

“I have noticed, as the semester progresses, the parking situation gets better. I think students drop classes or people carpool,” said Shelby Swaby, a sophomore at Vol State. “I feel like there is a lot more staff parking that isn’t always filled. I don’t know how many spaces are reserved for staff, but I feel like there are always empty staff spaces.”

Pioneers gear up for baseball season

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball season is now in full swing.

Although the team only started playing this past weekend, the players feel like they are heading in the right direction.

Collin Hopkins, starting catcher for the Pioneers, summarized his current role on the team.

“I am being a leader on the field and knowing the game strategy is important,” he said.

Hopkins also talked about the team’s pitching.

“We are going to work on pitching, other than that I feel like we have a really great team, especially offensively,” said Hopkins.

“The pitching is on the right track, we just have to get there,” he said.

Redshirt Chase Haley gave an update based on where he believes he sits for this season.

“I think coach will just redshirt me this year, and if not then he’ll make his judgment based on seeing me a few more times,” said Haley.

“If I am not 100% this week, then I will be for sure next week,” he said.

With his PRP (platelet-rich-plasma) injection just last July, Haley is partaking in practice and still seeing if he fits on the regular season roster. He commented on what he would do if he did not make the final cut.

“I could work out then go to the game and be there as support,” said Haley.

Last Tuesday, Feb. 13, the Pioneers lost 9-1 to visiting team Wabash Valley College, who placed third in the NJCAA College World Series last season, said Logan Maloney, assistant coach.

“Everyone is getting into the swing of playing again, we’ve seen really good pitching and now some guys can make an adjustment at the plate,” said Maloney.

“We hung in there early, just had an inning that got away from us a little bit,” said Maloney.

“We are going to be a hard-nose gritty team. That is who we are going to be,” said Maloney about his team.

Maloney also said this team has a pretty good chemistry in the locker room.

Maloney discussed who would be starting for the Pioneers.

“We are still looking for our everyday starters. That is all up to Coach Hunt,” said Maloney.

Maloney has set a goal for his outfielders fielding the long hits by the batters.

“No ground ball errors. That is a goal we have set for ourselves in the outfield,” said Maloney.

“It’s about how you finish. It is not about how you start,” Maloney said.

The Pioneers will play Schoolcraft College and Parkland College on Saturday, Feb. 24. The first game will begin at 12:30 p.m. at Garrett Field on Vol State’s campus. The second game will begin at 2:30 p.m.

During spring break, the Pioneers will take the road to face off against the Columbia State Chargers at Dave Hall Baseball Field in Columbia, Tennessee, the weekend of March 2-3.

Pioneers to play in Flag City Tournament

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 8.58.00 PM

Photo courtesy of Immanuel DeJesus

 

By Nick Kieser

It is time to hit the road for the Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team this weekend. The team will play in the annual Flag City Tournament in Memphis, Tennessee.

The team is looking to get a win early in their season.

Ryan Hunt, head coach, knows that his guys still have some things to work on and is trying to “get all the kinks worked out” with the team.

Because of rain, one of the three games in Memphis has been moved to Vol State’s Garrett Field Feb. 12 at 2 p.m.

The Pioneers feel there are some improvements to be made in pitching.

“We need to throw our strikes better. We walked quite a few guys in our scrimmage versus Trevecca,” said Hunt.

This tournament will help the Pioneers in a few ways. First, the new freshman players will get a sense for how college baseball feels. Each player will have to transition to the fast-paced game played in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association). The trip to Memphis will also help preview how the team can play at its full potential this season.

“We could do good or even better than last year,” said Hunt about this tournament.

The team has a consistent work ethic and attends practices every weekday. The pitchers arrive at 1:30 p.m., and position players arrive at 2:30 p.m. If there is an intersquad scrimmage, everyone will be at the field at 1:30 p.m.

Freshman relief pitcher, Chase Haley, knows from his time scrimmaging that his coach is watching everyone closely.

Hunt has been running a lot of intersquads lately to see who will fit well into the system before the regular season starts, said Haley.

Still a redshirt, Haley wants to be back to where his pitching performance was in high school. He knows that throwing at 84 mph is not enough to crack the team as a freshman, but the feat is not impossible.

“I want to get back up to 87 mph so I can show the scouts that I am not the same I was in high school,” said Haley.

Despite having a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection for soreness, Haley feels he is progressing at a steady pace. Haley mentioned if he ever gets a chance to play over the weekend that he will “more than likely” throw a fastball as his first pitch.

To make the weekend and season easier, Haley reminds himself to keep an uplifting attitude. “I’ve been sore and that’s the body saying it’s working. If I dwell on my failure, it will continue to happen,” said Haley.

As the regular season nears, the team is realizing what this means for them.

“It’s starting to get close and more real to me,” said Haley.

After the Flag City Tournament, the Pioneers have a hefty workload in front of them.

“It can be a pretty daunting schedule,” said Hunt, talking about the long season his team will have.

Each game will need to have an element of urgency and to be taken seriously. No game on the schedule needs to be taken for granted, but rather, no matter the opponent, each game needs to be played at full speed.

“We’ll have our hands full. There is some good competition this year,” said Hunt.

Aggressiveness will be a major key for the Pioneers as a whole. Making themselves unpredictable will throw opponents off, and hopefully, by listening to Hunt, they can be happy with how they will perform.

The Pioneers home opener is Friday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. at Garrett Field versus the Moraine Valley Community College Cyclones.