STEPHENVILLE - After an intense recruiting effort in the offseason, ninth-year skipper Bryan Conger has a renewed sense of excitement about making Tarleton baseball great again when the Texans take the field to open the season on Friday, February 3.
"We're excited to begin this season's journey and see what we are capable of becoming," said Conger. "We put in a tremendous amount of time and effort this past offseason in the recruiting process and believe that time and energy will be evident on the field this year."
Tarleton returns 10 lettermen from a year ago, including all-LSC selection Jake Hasbrouck. In his first season at Tarleton in 2016, Hasbrouck enjoyed the best collegiate season of his young career as the Rocky Mountain Slugger from Ault, Colorado hit .307 with a team high seven home runs and drove in 31 RBIs on his way to being named a second-team all-conference selection.
Among the returning Texans, Hasbrouck is joined by Dalton Richardson (C), Ryan Flynn (OF), Stacy Heinatz (IF), Garret Kizer (UT), Trevor Inman (OF), Will Blanchard (P), Hunter Houston (P), Matt Herrick (P), and Hunter Seales(OF). Seales is coming off a junior season in which he boasted a 1.000 fielding percentage with 84 putouts in the outfield.
"The returners have done a nice job of integrating in with all the new faces and providing a steady stream of leadership along the way," said Conger. "This group, as individuals, all bring a different personality element that has really provided different avenues of leadership to the team as a whole."
With only 10 returners, it left a lot of roster spots to fill – a challenge that Conger and Buck enthusiastically accepted.
The Tarleton coaching staff added 23 new faces to the mix for 2017, including seven NCAA Division I transfers, an NCAA Division II transfer, 13 additions from the junior college ranks, and two freshmen.
"We believe this is one of the most physical teams to wear a Tarleton uniform in some time," said Conger. "This group possesses a really nice blend of speed and power throughout the line-up that will allow us the flexibility to do some things and get back to our core offensive philosophy.
"On the mound we have young men who are competitive and aggressive in the zone," he continued. "The quality depth appears to give us the ability to create match ups and hopefully put ourselves in a position to shorten games with the bullpen. Defensively, because of the athleticism of this group, we expect to continue to be a top unit nationally.  This is the best we have been up the middle as a unit in quite some time and might be the best the program has had. Time will tell."
Tarleton has had a rich history of success on the diamond since the university reinstated the program in 1988 and even more so since Conger took over the program in 2009.
In the 28 seasons that baseball has graced the field in Stephenville in the modern era, Tarleton has racked up over 850 wins and qualified for the NCAA playoffs four times since becoming an NCAA institution in 1994. Conger has accounted for 225 of those wins as the head coach, which is second only in Tarleton history to Hall of Fame skipper Jack Allen with 418 wins in 13 seasons.
Tarleton will take the field on Friday, February 3 in Stephenville against Arlington Baptist at 1 p.m. in the season opener.