Fall isn’t reserved just for football. Now that we are heading into the homestretch of September, that means it is time to start hearing the ping of aluminum bats coming from Doug Kingsmore. Last weekend, Monte Lee and his Tiger baseball team kicked off fall practice in preparation of the upcoming 2020 season. Coming off a disappointing 2019 campaign, this team had to be anxious to get back on the field and put the memory of last season in its rear view mirror.
Practice begins this year with a new face on the coaching staff. Third base coach Greg Starbuck left to take a full time job at UNC-Greensboro and in his place Monte Lee has brought in Jared Broughton as a volunteer assistant. Broughton spent the last four seasons as the associate head coach at Division III Piedmont, a small school in Georgia. Before that, he spent three years at Earlham, another Division III school in Indiana. He also played two seasons at Dayton in 2012 and 2013.
Monte Lee is heading into his fifth year as the Tigers head coach and returns 25 lettermen from last season, but he will have to replace two of its most productive hitters after Logan Davidson and Grayson Byrd were taken in the MLB Draft. Last week Lee spoke to local media and had this to say,
“This has been the most all in, bought in selfless group of guys that we’ve had. They’ve been very diligent every day. Very focused, working hard all together in everything that they’ve been doing. So we’ve got a lot of new faces, a lot of young guys especially on the position player side. But so far I really like what I am seeing out of all of our guys. I think our returners are better than they were last year just based on where they’re at right now and I really like some of our new guys. So I’ve been very impressed so far and excited to get started with team practice.”
If the Tigers are to improve on what we saw in 2019 and take that next step as a program, it is imperative that they get more out of the arms on the team. Carter Raffield and Spencer Strider both should return from Tommy John surgeries, although they will be brought along slowly. Mat Clark and Davis Sharpe are both back as well. Keyshawn Askew and Jackson Lindley both return after being forced into action as freshman.
Joining them will be freshman hurlers Mack Anglin and Geoffrey Gilbert, two of the more highly touted prospects from the 2019 recruiting class. It is a class that was ranked 13th in the nation and 2nd in the ACC by Baseball America. Perfect Game ranked it as the 23rd best class in the country. It is a signing class that was heavy on arms, with more than 2/3 of it consisting of pitchers.
Fall practice continues through the last weekend in October, concluding with three intrasquad scrimmages on the final weekend, also known as the Orange and Purple games. The team also has two scrimmages scheduled vs outside competition.
All practices and scrimmages are open to the public and admission is free.