NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As the days of summer draw to a close and temperatures around Nashville begin to slide, the Lipscomb baseball team is just starting to heat up.
The Bisons, fresh off a trip to the 2015 NCAA Postseason, opened fall practice Sunday at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“This time of year is always exciting,” said 10th-year head coach Jeff Forehand. “We're excited about the great group of guys we have returning, as well as all of our newcomers. The fall season is where everything starts so we're excited to get everything underway.
“Next week we will start scrimmaging and trying to imitate what a week of spring practice will look like. That is what the guys look forward to the most because that is really the only kind of competition of the fall. I am excited to see us compete.”
Lipscomb had a fantastic year last season, going 39-20 to set the school record for wins in a season, winning the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament and earning a trip to regional play. A big reason behind Lipscomb’s success was the senior class.
But the loss of those seniors does not have Forehand concerned.
“No doubt there will be a void left by that group of seniors, but I am very confident in the guys we have returning and the guys that we brought in,” Forehand said. “We have some good ball players and good leadership on this club. If everyone comes to practice ready to learn, get better and buy-in to what we are doing here at Lipscomb, there is no reason we can’t surpass what we did in 2015.”
With the departure of the 10 seniors, including A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year in Grant Massey and first-team all-conference selection Ian Martinez-McGraw, the door is wide open for the 24 returnees and 12 newcomers on the 2016 squad.
One of the fall storylines will be revamping the starting rotation and bullpen after five Bisons graduated from the mound. That bunch accounted for 15 wins, 12 saves, 163 strikeouts and 225 innings last season.
A few of Lipscomb’s top contributors from 2015 who return are senior Jaesung Hwang (2-1, 2.73 ERA, 33.0 IP), junior Dalton Curtis (2-0, 3.24 ERA, 16.2) and sophomores Brady Puckett (7-3, 4.54 ERA, 79.1 IP) and Jeffrey Passantino (5-1, 2.69 ERA, 67 IP).
Redshirt senior Cody Glenn and redshirt freshman Kyle Kemp will bolster the staff. Kemp missed all of 2015 recovering from injury while Glenn was required to sit out after transferring from LSU. Five of the new Bisons are pitchers.
Fall practices continue for the Bisons over the course of the next few weeks. Lipscomb will begin its intrasquad scrimmages Tuessday, Sept. 29 at 3 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 3rd at 10 a.m. They are open to the public.
Other scrimmage dates are set for Oct. 8-9, 13-14, 21-23. Lipscomb will then wrap up its fall practice with the annual Purple and Gold World Series Oct. 26-28. Start times for the World Series is tentatively set for 3 p.m. each day.
The 2016 season begins on Feb. 19 when Lipscomb will play host to Eastern Kentucky for a three-game series at Dugan Field.