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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 begins practices, prepares to defend Sun Belt Conference title

Texas+State+senior+pitcher+Triston+Dixon+%282%29+throws+the+ball+during+fall+baseball+practice%2C+Thursday%2C+Sept.+29%2C+2022%2C+at+Bobcat+Ballpark.

Texas State senior pitcher Triston Dixon (2) throws the ball during fall baseball practice, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, at Bobcat Ballpark.

The road to Omaha has officially begun for the Texas State baseball team as it opened fall practices for the 2023 season in September. 
The Bobcats are coming off the greatest season in program history, in which they achieved the most wins in a single season by Texas State baseball with a 47-14 record. 
For head coach Steven Trout, it feels good to return to the diamond with his squad after a long summer. 
“It’s awesome to get them back and get back into team practice where they start competing for jobs and start competing to find a way to get wins,” Trout said. “It’s great to be out here at the yard and have my guys back and to get after it with them.”
Trout, the 2021 Ron Maestri Sun Belt Coach of the Year, has been utilizing fall practice for the team to improve in the areas he felt hurt them in 2022, starting with defense. 
“Just from a fielding percentage number I think we were somewhere in the middle to the bottom three-quarters of the Sun Belt,” Trout said. “That’s one thing we really emphasized on this fall.”
Texas State’s historic 2022 season ended with a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Stanford in the NCAA Regional Finals. For junior pitcher Tony Robie, the feelings he had after that loss are something he will never forget, and he believes the experience will serve as motivation for the club heading into the season.
“I think a lot of it brings an edge to a certain extent because we’ve done it before,” Robie said. “We’ve sustained success to a pretty extreme extent, so there’s no more of a question.”
For Trout, carrying the momentum the team established in 2022 into the 2023 season will be vital if the Bobcats want to make a second consecutive deep postseason run. 
Trout said that the extended period of success last season built confidence within his squad, and he thinks his returning players will continue to sustain that success. 
“You got to wake up very hungry and find a way to get better every single day,” Trout said. “So far to this point, I feel like this group has done this.” 
One of the biggest questions Texas State faces heading into the upcoming season is how the team will replace the production of closer Tristian Stivors. Stivors, one of the greatest players in program history, was a consensus All-American who led the nation in saves and was a massive piece to Texas State’s success in 2022. 
His successful 2022 campaign led to him being selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 16th round of the MLB draft this past summer. With Stivors now pitching in the minor leagues with his new organization, Trout knows replacing his productivity from last season will not be an easy feat.
However, Trout has faith in the talent he has in the back end of the bullpen. 
“A guy like him, I don’t know if you replace him with one guy … there’s a lot of good talented arms back there that can make that happen,” Trout said. “Some are just new and we haven’t seen and some probably haven’t been in that spot … that’s what the fall is for; to try and figure out how do you start building your staff … especially when you lose key guys like Stivors.” 
As for the players themselves, they are taking a next-man-up mentality to replace the production from key graduates. Senior outfielder Jose Gonzalez, who was named to the 2022 All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team, said it will be hard to match the numbers from the former Bobcats, but he trusts that he and his teammates can put the pieces together.
“We’re going to have to have some young guys step up and I think they will and be ready for the challenge,” Gonzalez said.
Although Stivors and reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year and Minnesota Twins draftee Dalton Shuffield are no longer a part of the squad, expectations surrounding the program are still high. There are 23 players returning from last year’s record-breaking team, and the Bobcats will set out to prove that the 2022 season was not a fluke, rather the new standard for Bobcat baseball. 
“I think last year definitely gave us a taste of what this team and program is capable of and this year’s team, we don’t have a different goal in mind,” Gonzalez said. “We want to get right back to the same place and hopefully go further than we did last year.”
Last year’s run gave the program playoff experience, and the team knows what it takes to further advance into the postseason. After coming within three outs of punching a ticket to Omaha for the first time in program history, the goal for the 2023 team is simple: make it back to regionals and finish what they could not a season ago.
“From a pitching aspect I really think we’re going to throw the ball super well this year … everybody got a year older and a little bit stronger, a little more athletic,” Robie said. “I think offensively we have some really big pieces coming back … that philosophy of the offense is definitely still there.”

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  • Texas State sophomore infielder Daylan Pena (7) hits the ball in the batting cage during fall baseball practice, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, at Bobcat Ballpark.

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