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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Baseball looks to get back to its winning ways

Texas+State+senior+pitcher+Trevis+Sundgren+%283%29+takes+a+couple+of+practice+pitches+during+baseball+practice%2C+Wednesday%2C+Feb.+9%2C+2022%2C+at+Bobcat+Ballpark.

Texas State senior pitcher Trevis Sundgren (3) takes a couple of practice pitches during baseball practice, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, at Bobcat Ballpark.

Last spring, Texas State baseball suffered its first losing season since 2017 and its second within the previous decade. With the new season starting on Friday, the team looks to redeem itself this year and bounce back to its winning ways. 
In a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bobcats faced uncertainty with health protocols and game cancelations along with several injuries to key players last year. As the upcoming season approaches, Head Coach Steven Trout has a renewed outlook on the team’s future.
“I’m really excited about our team, coming off a bad year last year. We’ve done a lot of work within our staff, and with our program, to try not to let that happen again,” Trout said.
This season the Bobcats will compete in a tough non-conference schedule where they will face two preseason top 25 teams in early March. The Bobcats will take on the 15th ranked Arizona Wildcats and the Texas Longhorns, the number one team in the country.
The team will also play a neutral game at Globe Life Field, in Arlington, Texas for the second year in a row, this time against Wichita State.
The ‘Cats tough schedule won’t stop after non-conference play either, as they will look to compete in the Sun Belt Conference. This season, Texas State was selected to rank seventh in the preseason coaches’ poll. None of the Bobcats were awarded Sun Belt preseason honors.
The good news for Texas State starts on the left side of the infield, with senior third baseman Justin Thompson who leads the team in batting average with .283 and RBIs with 37. Additionally, the ‘Cats have the support of team veterans such as senior shortstop Dalton Shuffield, who admits last season was the worst of his career statistically. Despite the downfalls of last season, Shuffield managed to obtain the team’s second-best batting average with .278, second-most doubles with 11 and also led the team in steals with 10.
Texas State baseball was not only prone to failure on the field as it also struggled in the classroom last season. This year, Shuffield said, the team hopes to continue to improve in both facets.
“We didn’t do too well, on the field and really off. Our GPA as a team wasn’t too good in the class. I think it was either 2.5 or something like that and going from that to this year, we had our best GPA for a semester, and I think that kind of goes on to the baseball field as well,” Shuffield said.
Another key statistical leader returning is junior infielder/outfielder Jose Gonzalez, who led the team last year in on-base plus slugging (OPS) with .880, doubles with 14, triples with three and had the highest home runs among returning players with seven.
As for the mix of older and younger guys on the roster, senior outfielder John Wuthrich is dedicated to making the most out of this season and said the team’s overall success is what matters most this year rather than individual egos.
“For me, it’s realizing that I’m going to work a 9-5 or a real-life job after this in a couple of months so, not being satisfied with just being mediocre, rejecting that, making sure we’re striving to be the best that we can be, to win games,” Wuthrich said. “We’ve got the main prize as the championship on our minds, own self-gratification in awards and stats aren’t really taking the forefront for this team.”
While the team’s strong suits are in other areas, the team’s question mark seems to be pitching, as the Bobcats need to improve on their Sun Belt Conferences’ 9th best, 5.55 earned run average (ERA) from last year. However, Texas State must do so without last season’s most consistent starter, right-handed pitcher Zachary Leigh, who was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 16th round (484th overall pick) in the 2021 MLB draft.
A replacement ace could be junior right-handed pitcher Zeke Wood, who started 14 games last season, posting a 4.45 ERA. Trout also mentioned junior right-hander Triston Dixon and sophomore right-hander Tony Robie, who was throwing 94-96 mph in the team’s first practice, could be great assets. Sophomore right-hander Cameron Bush also showed flashes last season as a starter and could find his way into a renewed Texas State starting rotation.
In the bullpen, the ‘Cats will be able to send it to senior right-hander Tristan Stivors who led the team in saves last season. Another bright spot from last season was sophomore right-hander Otto Wofford, who carried the team in bullpen appearances with 22 and had just 1.33 walks and hits per inning pitched (WHIP).
The team will also welcome a new class of freshmen and transfers, including freshman catcher Chris Bernal, who is the third-best catching prospect in the state and may see time behind the plate along with junior starting catcher/outfielder Peyton Lewis. Trout said the team’s addition of 18 players will all have an opportunity to prove themselves on the field. 
“Practices are great, fall games are great, alumni games are great, scrimmages are great. When those lights come on and those stands get filled and there’s another color in the other team, not the maroon and gold over there, it’s a different ballgame,” Trout said. 
Freshman infielder Daylan Pena could also see opportunities at the plate and on the field this season.
“That guy can really hit, he’s going to be a guy to really get his chances early,” Trout said, adding that Pena has been leading the team in hitting during the offseason and is a super competitive baseball guy.
Another arm out of the pen is Texas Tech transfer, sophomore right-handed pitcher Levi Wells, who held opponents to a .231 batting average in 17 relief appearances for the Red Raiders.
As far as starting transfer pitchers are concerned, sophomore right-hander Peyton Zabel, could sneak his way into the top of the Bobcats’ starting rotation. Zabel went 8-2 in 12 starts for Iowa Western Community College with an impressive 1.78 ERA and 77 strikeouts to just 20 walks.
To begin the season, the Bobcats will face off against the Utah Valley Wolverines for the first time in program history in a four-game home series. The first pitch of the 2022 season will be at 6 p.m. on Feb.18 at Bobcat Ballpark.

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  • Texas State senior infielder Dalton Shuffield (8) reflects on the upcoming season during the baseball media day preview, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, at Bobcat Ballpark.

  • Texas State sophomore pitcher Otto Wofford (27) practices his pitching during baseball practice, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, at Bobcat Ballpark.

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