Sully Says: Recipe for a turnaround baseball season
The recipe for this dramatic turnaround, from 26 to 42 wins, is simple: developing and recruiting.
I've learned over the years that a year older doesn't necessarily mean a year better. Don't tell that to Chad Spanberger, Grant Koch, Jake Arledge, Blaine Knight, Kasey Murphy and Jake Reindl. These six Hogs are different players this season.
Spanberger has gone from hitting .225 with six homers to batting .309 with 19 home runs. Koch's power surge this season: two home runs in 29 games last season to 13 home runs this season. Arledge has added a whopping 54 points to his average this season. Blaine Knight went from being a pitcher who showed promise last season to being a reliable Friday-Saturday guy with eight wins this season. Kacey Murphy is the sophomore from Rogers who shut out Florida on Saturday. Last season, Murphy had an 8.49 era in 14 appearances. Reindl wasn't a factor last season. He pitched a total of five innings. This season, Jake has been one of the go-to guys out of the pen. He's made 21 appearances and has an ERA of 2.15.
Luke Bonfield, Carson Shaddy, and Eric Cole haven't blown up this season, but all three have been solid contributors.
Now, to the recruiting. How about those high-impact newcomers?
Dominic Fletcher, Jax Biggers and Trevor Stephan.
Fletcher has developed into one of the more dynamic players in the SEC. He's hitting .294 with 12 home runs, and he's knocked in 36 RBI. Biggers is one of the best shortstops in college baseball, a slick defender who leads the Hogs in hitting with a .354 average. Stephan has everything you look for in a Friday starter. He has 108 strikeouts in 88 innings.
Freshman pitchers Kevin Kopps, Evan Lee and Matt Cronin have also been excellent additions to a much-improved pitching staff.
The best thing about this team? They continue to get better.
Developing and recruiting are byproducts of good coaching.