Jewett seeks new heights for 2017 baseball


Josh Christian I Photography Editor

Sophomore outfielder Grant Witherspoon catches a fly ball during a game against Pepperdine University (Witherspoon will wear No. 24 this year). Tulane swept Pepperdine in the March 4-6 2016 series at Greer Field in Turchin Stadium.

Travis Jewett won a national championship in 2014 as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator at Vanderbilt. Now, in his first year as the head coach at Tulane, he plans to bring that championship mentality with him to Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.

“I just put it in my backpack when I left Nashville, you know?” Jewett said.

Baseball’s newest head coach inherits a team that won the American Athletic Conference in the regular season under former head coach David Pierce but lost to Boston College 6-3 in the NCAA regional playoff on June 5, 2016. Tulane went 41-21 (15-7 AAC) through the season, increasing its win total for a second consecutive season. This position is Jewett’s first Division 1 head coaching job, but he said he is more excited than worried. 

“I’m new, some of the players are old, some are new, but we are all new together,” Jewett said. “Whether they are seniors or freshmen, we’re all new because it’s the first time we’ve come together. I’m watching the team grow, and watching these kids grow better every day. That’s the thing that excites me most.”

The Green Wave will look to fill many holes in the roster. Pitchers Emerson Gibbs, Trevor Simms and Alex Massey, as well as shortstop Stephen Alemais and catcher Jake Rodgers were selected in the 2016 MLB Draft.

The team still has senior veterans left on the roster, including infielders Hunter Williams, Hunter Hope and Jake Willsey, as well as outfielder Lex Kaplan and catcher Jeremy Montalbano. Freshmen infielders Sal Gozzo and Kody Hoese will compete for Alemais’ vacant shortstop position. Redshirt junior J.P. France, sophomore Ross Massey and senior Corey Merrill make up the trio of pitchers set to handle a heavy workload this season.  The team still needs to address a hole at catcher left by Jake Rodgers.

“We’ll look to see some younger kids cycle through [at catcher],” Jewett said.

Jewett has a vision for the Green Wave baseball team that includes a trip to the College World Series, and this year’s Green Wave baseball team has all the ingredients of a successful team.

“It’s not really seniors and freshmen up there, it’s just a team, a bunch of brothers,” Williams said. 

Both Jewett and Williams know everyone is going to have to step up their game.

“We can’t take a game off,” Williams said. “You have to come out with the same energy every day, and that’s easy under a guy like Coach Jewett.”

Jewett has a backpack full of championship culture, and he is opening it up to his team. The coach cannot guarantee a College World Series appearance or even who will be the starting pitcher for the opening game, but Williams had a guarantee.

“We are gonna win some games,” Williams said. “How about that?”

Tulane baseball will open its season against Army at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21 at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.

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