NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With opening day just around the corner, the Lipscomb baseball team began its preparations for the 2018 season last week with the first official team practice of the spring.
“I am excited for all of us to be back together and begin the prep for another season,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “Of course, it doesn’t take a lot to get excited when it’s 60 degrees on the first day out. Everyone is just excited to be back on the dirt again.
“It was a long fall and a lot or preparation to get us ready to play. These scrimmages are the most important drills right now as we start putting in place everything we started in the fall.”
The Bisons are coming off a disappointing 2017 season in which they finished 28-28 overall after being lauded as the ASUN’s preseason favorite for the first time in program history. After posting a 9-12 mark in conference play, Lipscomb finished the season as the No. 6 seed in the ASUN Tournament.
Lipscomb lost some big pieces last June to the MLB Draft, but Forehand likes the group he has in 2018. The Purple and Gold return 16 letterwinners, including six starters from the field, and will welcome 12 newcomers.
The offense will be paced by senior second baseman Lee Solomon, a Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-American. Solomon will look to close out his career with a bang after struggling at times a season ago where he hit just .243 after swinging .370 as a sophomore.
“We’ve been focused on correcting our mentality,” Solomon said. “A lot of the physical stuff will come as we continue to get better through practice, but it’s mostly just saying focused with high intensity and getting better with every single rep.”
Solomon drove in 27 RBI, scored 42 runs and drew 31 walks. He will enter the season as the ASUN’s top returning base stealer with 23 swipes in 2017.
Junior Cade Sorrells saw a full season as the primary first baseman for the Bisons and will return as Lipscomb’s top RBI man after knocking in 42 runs and hitting .298.
The Bisons also bring back preseason all-conference selections in third baseman Zeke Dodson and designated hitter Jake Perry.
Dodson led Lipscomb with a .309 clip and 37 RBI, while Perry collected seven home runs, 37 RBI and a .464 slugging percentage.
A key ingredient to the success in 2018 will be the pitching as the Bisons will be without Brady Puckett and Jeffrey Passantino in the weekend rotation for the first time in four seasons. In fact, senior Dayton Tripp is the only rotation arm returning.
Forehand dipped into the junior college ranks to pull right-handers Joshua Colon and Chris Kachmar. Both are projected as potential weekend arms.
Colon went 3-2 with a 3.28 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 49.1 innings last season at Western Oklahoma State College, while Kachmar posted a 3-2 mark and a 3.79 ERA in 57 innings at Palm Beach State College.
The Purple and Gold open the 2018 season Feb. 16 when it hosts UNC Asheville at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium for a three-game set. Friday’s first pitch for the series is scheduled for 4 p.m.
For more information on season tickets, please call the Lipscomb ticket office at 615-966-5383.