2012 Season Preview - Pitchers/Catchers
Feb. 7, 2012
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -Heading into the eighth season as head coach of the University of Memphis baseball program, Daron Schoenrock and his coaching staff see the pitchers and catchers as the biggest question mark entering the season. In the first of a three part series, GoTigersGo.com previews the pitchers and catchers.
Associate head coach/pitching coach Fred Corral has a bulk of returning pitchers, including weekend starters Dan Langfield and Clayton Gant. Sam Moll, who started five midweek contests, is expected to start on Sundays to round out the weekend rotation. In the bullpen, Michael Wills, Erik Schoenrock, Jonathan Van Eaton, Tyler Farley, Heith Hatfield, Blake Myers and Patrick Bailey return.
First baseman T.J. Rich is likely to see time on the mound this season as well as former catcher J.D. Wallace. Langfield and Gant combined for 26 starts and each pitched more than 70 innings. The 11 returning pitchers combined for 41 starts, 293.1 innings pitched and 284 strikeouts in 2011.
Langfield returns for his junior season after leading the team and finishing third among C-USA pitchers with 94 strikeouts. The Somerset, Mass., native recorded the second-most strikeouts in any single game with 16 against Kennesaw State last season. Finishing 3-3 on the season, Langfield struck out seven or more batters in six appearances and provided a quality start on four occasions. The junior right hander is expected to pitch on Saturday's for the Tigers this season.
Gant will likely take the Friday night role as a starter when the Tigers hit the field this season. The Parsons, Tenn., native has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery two seasons ago. After throwing 7-plus innings in six games last season, coach Schoenrock and staff hope to get six innings per start out of Gant.
Like much of the pitching corps, Moll has been hampered by injuries. The Lakeland, Tenn., native made five starts over the course of the 2011 season and finished with a 2.68 ERA in 40.1 innings of work. The southpaw struck out 48 batters and held opponents to a .223 batting average.
Recovering from arm surgery, redshirt-senior Chase Joiner returns to the pitching staff and will likely see some midweek starts. Joiner made a team-high 22 appearances for the 2010 club, before missing all of last season. Redshirt-junior Michael Wills is also expected to make midweek starts for the U of M. Wills made his first career start last season against Alcorn State and allowed one hit over 2.2 innings before exiting the game due to injury.
In the bullpen, Jonathan Van Eaton appears to be a major factor heading into the season. The redshirt-sophomore had 16.2 innings on the mound last year and recorded 15 strikeouts. Senior Tyler Farley has the most appearances among returning pitchers and will be one of the go-to arms out of the pen. Hatfield, Erik Schoenrock and Myers are recovering from various injuries and likely won't pitch when the season begins.
Wallace, a two-year letterwinner at catcher, is likely to see time out of the bullpen this season. Other newcomers include freshmen Tyler Dailey and Jacob Moody and junior college transfers Drew Griffin and Josiah Ward. Freshmen Craig Caufield and Dylan Toscano are rehabbing injuries, but could see time on the hill before the season concludes.
White hit .350 or better in his final two high school season en route to becoming the all-time hits leader at Spain Park High School. White has invaluable experience having played for the USSSA High School National Team in 2010. Aldridge hit close to .500 in his final two high school season and threw out 22-of-23 base stealers in his senior campaign. Aldridge was tabbed a top prospect at the Under Armour-Baseball Factory Tryout Event.