NASHVILLE - With the start of the 2019 baseball season officially less than a month away, the Lipscomb baseball team has taken the field for its first official practice of the spring.
“Everybody is excited about the first practice, everybody is excited about the first scrimmage game and getting back out here and actually doing a full team-together deal,” head coach Jeff Forehand said. “The excitement level every year is high and I think everybody is ready to crank it up.”
The Bisons are coming off a season in which they finished with an overall record at 24-30 and a 9-12 conference record for a fifth-place finish in the ASUN. The Purple and Gold are looking to bounce back with a number of returning talent, along with some new recruits.
“As far as every year you evaluate your team from what happened last year and number one we have to stay healthy,” Forehand said. “We had some guys down the stretch last year that weren’t able to play, so we’ve been really concentrating on that and we feel like if we can stay healthy we’re going to be in good shape.
“We’ve got some pitching returning, we’ve got five or six new freshman pitchers coming in as well, so we are excited about that. We’ve brought in some older position players to give us more depth. The blend of players that we have from what we brought back from last year is exciting to see what’s going to happen.”
Lipscomb will have to replace the production from 2-time second team All-Conference second baseman Lee Solomon, who was drafted in the 25th round by the San Diego Padres, but Forehand is confident that this group of players will get the job done.
Seniors Cade Sorrells and Zeke Dodson will look to be the leaders on offense for the Bisons after both were the only players in 2018 to start all 54 games.
Third baseman Dodson led the team in hits with 55 and at-bats with 197 in 2018. His .279 batting average was third-best on the squad. Sorrells returns for his senior season at first base in which he recorded 44 hits in 193 at-bats for a .228 batting average. Sorrells has also shown a good eye at the plate with his team leading 40 walks and a steady glove in the field, posting a team-high .991 fielding percentage after making just four errors in 460 total attempts.
The Bisons also bring back two All-Freshman performers in pitcher Noah Thompson and centerfielder Maddux Houghton.
Thompson was able to compile a 4-4 record in 50.1 innings of work with 11 starts. Among all freshman in the ASUN Conference, Thompson was the league's leader in ERA with a mark of 3.03. Houghton had a great freshman campaign hitting .255 with 40 hits and 23 RBI. A standout performance from the Dalton, Georgia native came on March 4 in a 12-4 win over Northern Kentucky as Houghton went 1-2 and drove in four RBI via a grand slam.
Lipscomb will open the 2019 season on Feb. 15 playing host to Valparaiso for a three-game series. Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for a 4 p.m. start.
For more information on season tickets, please call the Lipscomb ticket office at 615-966-5383.