Baseball will lean on experience in 2015
Thursday, September 25, 2014
By Kirk Downs
Baseball will lean on experience in 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Not only does the Lipscomb baseball team return a wealth of experience in the bullpen, it also welcomes back plenty of talent on the offensive side as well.

The Bisons lost just two starters off of last year’s squad that won 17 league games, the second most in school history, and finished fourth in the conference standings.

Leading the way is Second Team All-Conference selection, senior shortstop Grant Massey.

Massey led the team last season in batting average (.322), at-bats (242), runs (47), hits (78), doubles (19) and total bases (112). He also swiped a team-leading 14 bags and led the A-Sun drawing 40 free passes.

Massey and senior second baseman Mike Korte (.259, 30 RBI, 37 BB) provide the Bisons with a lethal combination up the middle for the defensively. The dynamic duo had a hand in 57 of the team’s 65 double plays in 2014 and as a team was just one short of tying the school’s NCAA single-season record.

Redshirt junior first baseman Adam Lee (.226, 6 2B, 18 RBI) and sophomore third baseman Hunter Hanks (.276, 17 RBI) look to lock down the corners while redshirt sophomore Tyler Bethune (.292, 2 HR, 19 RBI) will try to build off a successful All-Freshman campaign behind the plate.

The Bisons also welcome back two of their starting outfielders from a year ago, redshirt senior Josh Lee (.288, 22 RBI, 14 2B) in right field and senior Jonathan Allison (.274, 33 BB, 33 RBI, 1.000 fielding percentage) in center.

Seniors Tyson Ashcraft (.249, 4 HR, 34 RBI) and Griffin Moore (.299, 2 HR, 18 RBI) will have an increased roll as two-way contributors, in the infield and on the mound.

Although Lipscomb enters the 2015 season with one of the most experienced teams under his tenure, Coach Jeff Forehand stocked the roster with some of the top newcomers in the country and reeled in the highest-rated recruiting class in school history, rated No. 81 by PerfectGame.

“The expectations for our incoming class as a whole is really high because of the talent level they bring with them,” said Forehand. “But playing in college will throw a learning curve. The level of knowledge they need to compete at this level is a learning process.

“Even though they are good players, the opportunity to play and practice with the older, experienced guys will help with that curve. The only way for them to get experience is to put them out there and compete, so that is what we are going to do and we will see what happens.”

Forehand brought in two backstops, one from junior college and one from high school.

Chucky Vazquez could have an immediate impact behind the plate for Lipscomb after spending two years at Broward College in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. His two-year stint with the Seahawks saw Vazquez earn First Team All-Southern Conference honors as well as being named one of the top 200 junior college prospects by PerfectGame. Vazquez hit .321 with five doubles, five home runs and 27 RBIs in the spring. He also gunned down 13 would-be base stealers.

Jeffrey Crisan will provide some depth at catcher. Crisan was a PerfectGame Underclass Honorable Mention All-America in both 2012 and 2013 while at Apopka High School in Florida.

Lipscomb made a splash over the summer with the signing of 2014 Louisville Slugger All-American, Tyler Brown out of Dyer County High School. As a senior Brown led the state of Tennessee with 68 hits and was named to the Tennessee Baseball Coaches All-State Team. Brown hit .489 during his final season with the Choctaws, including 22 doubles.

Lee Solomon is another addition to the Lipscomb infield.  The Ohio native was a First Team All-League selection as a junior after hitting .516 for Columbus Academy.

The Bisons dipped into the talent-rich state of Florida to grab a couple of outfielders in Tevin Symonette and Michael Gigliotti.

Symonette was rated the 18th-best outfielder in the state of Florida and No. 91 nationally by PerfectGame, where he was also an Underclass Honorable Mention All-American each of the last two seasons.

Gigliotti will give Lipscomb some athleticism in the outfield for 2015. He won the 2012 and 2013 Florida State Championship with Archbishop Edward McCarthy High School and was selected as a PerfectGame Underclass Honorable Mention All-American in 2013.

The Bisons open the 2015 season with a three-game set with Butler at Ken Dugan Field on Feb. 13.

For a look at the Bisons’ pitching depth take a look at the story wrote on 9/24/14.