By: Nick Kieser
The 2019 Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team is back from summer break with a new group of players and some returning as well.
With the regular season not for another semester, the Pioneers are reporting to practices and getting back into form for a full season that is ahead.
“We are still trying to gel together and find out what we have. We want to know who fits best right now,” said head coach, Ryan Hunt.
Just as of late the team has been doing inner-squad games on Garrett Field to see where specific guys will fit and who will make the final squeeze on the roster come opening day.
On Sept. 12, the Cumberland University junior varsity baseball team visited the Pioneers for a preseason matchup.
The Pioneers played 8 innings defeating Cumberland 10-0 which is otherwise known in college baseball as a run rule.
“Everyday you need the same intensity and if you don’t you’re not working hard enough. Coach Hunt doesn’t want us outworked no matter who we play,” said Sophomore pitcher, Chase Haley.
A record of 30-18 last season was good enough to place in third at the NJCAA postseason tournament in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
According to Hunt, this year the Pioneers will be more freshman-heavy than having the returning players come back this spring.
“A big thing is trying to teach guys how to play the game hard and not when they just feel like it. Practice, game, and scrimmage you have to give it everything you’ve got,” said Hunt.
Expectations have been set for the team and coach Hunt has a vision for what he wants to see from his group.
“If you tend to play the game the right way things usually tend to work out. Last year is over with and this year, in my opinion, we play a pretty tough schedule,” said Hunt.
“We are hoping that some of the sophomores can step up and some of the freshmen we’ve brought in should play a key role in getting us there. We lost a lot of pitching and now we have some guys who have a chance to prove themselves this year,” said assistant coach, Jason Barrett.
The other teams in Vol State’s conference are competitive like they are. Leadership is something that will need to be accounted for when the regular season comes around this upcoming spring semester.
“Step up in leadership roles. Leading by example and vocally is a big thing to let the freshmen see how it’s done at this level and what it’s gonna take to compete. Going to have to step up ourselves to take our game up to the next level so we can prove ourselves against teams like Walters State and Chipola,” said sophomore catcher, Zeke Lecomte.
“I am most excited for a chance to just get on the baseball field. When you’re in this business it’s because you love the game. The game will chew you up and spit you out and won’t forget when you are gone, but as coach Hunt would say any day to wake up and be part of the game is a blessing,” said Barrett.
In just four months the games will start and from there on there will be no turning back to just fix mistakes that came up in the fall.