By Nick Kieser
The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team has started practicing and preparing for their full 45-game schedule.
The team has scrimmaged to give the coaches a chance to look at their players.
“I know that these guys will give me all they got,” said Ryan Hunt, head coach.
The Pioneers record last year was 29-20, and the team is focused on carrying over the positive aspects from last season.
“Having a winning season was good,” said Hunt. He hopes the winning tradition will continue into this 2018 season.
The Pioneers fell to the Parkland College Cobras late in the last few innings of the postseason last year.
“We played well in conference tournament and had the number one seed beat until the last inning,” said Hunt.
Now, the team wants to go is to put that loss behind them and move on. An early goal for the Pioneers is to beat Walter State and Dyersburg State. Both teams are considered ‘powerhouses’ by Hunt.
The first regular season game is Feb. 9.
Chase Haley, freshman relief pitcher, believes that his team has a lot to offer as the games are coming up.
Haley is currently a redshirt due to his health. Haley is trying to gain some muscle weight and strength as he is building back up to full participation. If he gets “back to 100 percent” and plays well, Hunt would take away the redshirt, Haley said.
Jordan Williams, freshman right outfielder, is also a redshirt.
“As a redshirt my goal is to develop and get better with skills,” said Williams. He wants to play his game and focus on his job on the field the best he can.
Williams, who has been playing baseball since he was five, sees the team heading in the right direction.
“We’ve come together a lot with having skilled players, and I think we’re going to be pretty good this year,” said Williams, a future sports athletic trainer.
“There were teams who beat us consistently, and we want to change that,” said Williams,.
One thing that has seemed important to all the team is keeping each other accountable and having good leaders.
Collin Hopkins, a catcher in his last year as a Pioneer, is looked up to by Williams.
“I know I can look up to him and that he has my back, but he also helps everyone gain confidence,” said Williams.
Jake Lyle, pitcher, is a role model for Haley.
“Jake has signed with ETSU, and we hope that more players will get looks as well,” said Hunt.
The goal for the team is to make it to the postseason and go to the College World Series.
“The key to our season is going to be our starting pitching, goal is to keep teams off balance,” said Hunt.
In order to have a successful season Hunt also has three elevated expectations of his players.
“Work hard, go to class, and represent yourself in the right way on and off the field,” he said.
The Vol State Pioneers will begin their regular season schedule in Millington, Tennessee, Feb. 9th against the Johnson County Community College Cavaliers in the Flag City Classic tournament this weekend. Their first home game at Garrett Baseball Field is Friday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m.