UCO Baseball preview: Added Depth, New Players to Benefit Bronchos
UCO baseball is right around the corner and the Bronchos are ready to improve upon last year’s 30-22 record.
UCO Broncho baseball players watch from the dugout as a fellow player is up to bat in the March 7, 2015 game. The 2017 baseball season is approaching, and the team plans to improve upon last year’s record. (Provided/ Vista Archives).
UCO baseball is right around the corner and with a roster loaded with experienced upperclassman and 24 returning players, the team is ready to further improve upon last year’s 30-22 record.
Second year head coach John Martin is eager to show what his team has accomplished during the offseason and believes the team’s newfound depth is key.
“For some positions, we only had one guy”, said John Martin, UCO baseball’s head coach, about last year’s depth. “For the pitching staff to have different looks out of the bullpen, different roles, I think we have more guys to be able to do that”.
To address the depth issue, the team landed several transfer students they believe will help make an immediate impact.
New shortstop Justin Brown, a transfer from Northern Oklahoma College in Enid, is one player anticipated to make an impact on this year’s Broncho team. Last year the junior hit .407 while knocking five balls out of the park along the way, according to Region II Athletics.
Another fresh face that fans should look out for this season is left-handed pitcher Holden Capps. The senior transfer student from North Carolina-Charlotte had the 11th highest strikeout per game mark in the country in 2014 and is looking to make his presence felt this upcoming season.
By addressing the depth issue, Martin believes it will benefit the team defensively – an area they struggled with last year.
Last season, the Bronchos finished tied for the second worst fielding percentage in the MIAA conference (.946), and also committed 107 errors, which was also second worst in the conference.
On the offensive end, the Bronchos enter this season as one of the best hitting teams in their conference. With the vast number of players returning, fans should expect sparks at the plate if the Bronchos produce anything close to last year’s numbers. The team was first in the conference in home runs and slugging percentage, while also finishing third in total runs.
One key returning player who helped the Bronchos become such a force at the plate is 2016 First-Team All-American Jon Kamies.
Kamies, a first baseman and outfielder from Sapulpa, Oklahoma, returns after posting a .390 batting average. Kamies led the team last year in runs batted in (73), doubles (17) and home runs (18).
The numbers Kamies produces are not the only measure of his impact. “The good thing about Jon is no matter if he’s playing good or playing bad, he’s still our leader and he’s still going to play hard,” said Martin.
With the added depth and plethora of returning players, Coach Martin believes the result is a balanced team, capable of winning games in multiple ways. As the long offseason comes to a close, he and the team are just ready to play. “I’m excited to get our team out there and compete and see what they’re made of,” Martin said.
The team starts their season on Feb. 4 away from home with a three game series against Arkansas-Monticello. The Bronchos then return on Feb. 7 to play their first home game against the Southern Nazarene Crimson Storm.