BUENA VISTA, Va.—The Southern Virginia University baseball team fills its 2013-14 roster with a dozen new young players having graduated nine key players from last season. The team looks to continue to be competitive and rank as a top competitor in the Capital Athletic Conference.
To view the 2014 CAC Baseball Preseason Webcast, visit the CAC YouTube page.
Southern Virginia head coach Logan Mann shares his outlook for this year's team:
What are your goals and expectations for this upcoming season?
Mann: One of the goals we have set for the team for this upcoming season is to finish in the top six in the Capital Athletic Conference even though we are not eligible for the CAC tournament. We want make a name for ourselves in the first year and show we are ready to compete at this level. We're a young bunch, so I'm really just expecting our team to go out and compete and work well with each other and give it everything they have.
Who were the key losses from last year?
Mann: We graduated the biggest class in Southern Virginia history. We graduated nine kids. Tyler Cox will be a huge factor that we will miss offensively. Trager Hintze was a big leader for our team and then we lost our entire starting outfield, which will hurt as well.
Who are the key returners?
Mann: Our biggest and most solid returner will be our shortstop, C.J. Andrus. This will be his third year as a starter. We expect him to be very solid for us up the middle. Tyler King on the mound - he had a great summer with the Rockbridge Rapids in the Valley League. We're going to lean on him heavily. Then we have Mitch Mantle, who is going into his senior year. He'll get a lot of playing time this year so we're expecting things from him as well.
Who are your key newcomers?
Mann: We've got a few bright spots in the newcomers that we really expect big things out of. We have two young catchers that I think can be very good for us - Ryan Gabriel from Florida and Jordan Keefer from Utah. We expect them to compete right away at the collegiate level. We have two pretty good arms that will match up in the CAC pretty well in Colin Bigelow and Gage Bigelow. We feel they will be able to go and help us compete every time we play.
What are your thoughts on the schedule as we enter the CAC?
Mann: As I look at the schedule there is not a team on there that I think 'We should beat that team easily.' Coming from the USCAA, there are some games where I could say, 'Yeah, we'll be ok there.' This year it doesn't matter whether we're in conference or out of conference. If we don't come to play every game they're going to beat us. As far as the CAC schedule goes, looking up and down it's brutal. We're excited to go and play some of the best baseball there is in the country. We're excited to see where we stack up.
How is the team's training and conditioning coming along so far?
Mann: This team is a special group. They're young but they really have bonded and grown together. They work extremely hard and they're really coachable. That's what we want from them. We want kids who are going to work hard and who are going to be coachable. If they keep that mindset then I think we should be pretty successful.
What did the team learn from last season and do you have any new coaching philosophies that you can tailor to this year's team?
Mann: What the team learned from last year is that during the baseball season there are a lot of games and with them are a lot of peaks and valleys. We've learned when we go through a low point we have got to stick together and stay together. The philosophy or mantra that we have taken upon our team this year is, "Protect the brotherhood." We've really tried to create a family environment and a brotherhood environment, one in which we are fighting for each other and not so much against another team. One of the things we went over before we started conditioning and lifting is not cheating your brother. They've really bought into that and they work extremely hard and they work hard for each other. It's fun to see.