Experience crucial for baseball in opening series
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Tulane baseball will open its highly anticipated 2016-17 season against the Army Black Knights and the Air Force Falcons this weekend. The three-game series will commence Friday and will continue through Sunday.
Experience will be a key factor for the Green Wave during the series. According to new head coach Travis Jewett, the returning players of Tulane baseball will be essential.
“I like the experience of this team. I like the heartbeat … We need to let those experiences shine through this year,” Jewett said.
The series is highlighted by the veteran pitchers starting each game. Senior Corey Merrill, redshirt junior J.P. France and sophomore Ross Massey will start on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. In 2016, Merrill went 4-1 through five starts and finished with a 2.05 ERA. France was 6-4 through 12 starts and had a 3.33 ERA through last season. Massey, the youngest of the trio, was 10-3 with a 2.29 ERA through his freshman year.
Tulane will also rely on the experience of graduate transfer and closer Ted Andrews, who spent three years at Furman University before transferring to Tulane. Andrews missed both his freshman and sophomore seasons due to Tommy John surgery, but made his collegiate debut during the 2015 season.
“The strides he has made from day one until now is as good as anyone on our team,” Jewett said. “I’m confident in him and he is confident in himself.”
Both the Black Knights and the Falcons will serve as unpredictable foes to the Green Wave. Army finished the 2015-16 season with a 16-32 overall record but has gone through coaching changes over the offseason. Air Force finished with an overall 2015-16 record of 30-27 but head into the series with returning players and, according to Jewett, “scary” offensive statistics.
The experience of the team is also anchored by senior outfielder Lex Kaplan. Kaplan will start in right field during Friday’s game against Army and seeks to draw on last year’s experience to help him during the series and the upcoming season.
“I think it’s really going to help,” Kaplan said. “We’ve all been there … We want to get past where we were.”
Looking towards the future, head coach Travis Jewett understands the need for a successful start to the season.
“Everything is on rent here, including the chair I’m sitting in,” Jewett said. “Production and how you play, it’s important. That’s how it plays itself out.”
Tulane baseball will face Army at 6:30 p.m. Friday and at 1 p.m. Sunday. It will face Air Force at 4 p.m. Saturday. All of the games are hosted at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.