The 2008 season is former Trojan short stop and NAIA All-American Chris Collins’ second year at the helm of the Trojan Baseball Program. Collins is coming off of a 44-18-1 record in his first season which saw the Trojans capture their second TranSouth Conference title in three years.
The Trojans saw steady improvement throughout the 2007 season, piling up numerous team and individual records. The return of key pitchers and an experienced and deep recruiting class has given the Trojans another shot at winning the Region XI Tournament and making their first-ever trip to the NAIA World Series. Last season the Trojans finished at No. 12 in the final national poll, with Collins receiving the TranSouth and Region XI Coach of the Year Awards. With many new faces and a 2008 pre-season national ranking of No. 17, the Trojans are focused on what it takes to build on their recent success. The Trojans are “Constructing Champions”!
Trevecca’s success in recent years is a direct result of the pitching staff for which the Trojans have become known. Second-year pitching coach Jonathan Burton has made an impact on a pitching staff poised for another great season.
The conference weekend staff will be led by senior right-handed pitcher Barrett Brown. Brown returns with his dominating breaking pitch and improved command. Brown will certainly add to his already impressive résumé. Right-handed junior Nick Shoup, with command of three pitches, was the Trojans’ go-to-guy in 2007. He possesses a fastball that runs into the upper 80s and is developing into one of the best pitchers in the NAIA.
The contenders for the third and final conference weekend spot include juniors Wesley Griggs and Drew Durrossette. Griggs, a left-handed pitcher, possesses great command with a fiery, competitive attitude. Griggs should make an impact on the weekend rotation while also earning time out of the bullpen. Durrossette, a junior college transfer who brings it from the right side, should make a huge impact. He can throw significant innings both as a starter and reliever. He owns good command of three pitches and challenges every hitter. Senior right-handed pitcher Steven Brown returns after an All-Conference 2007 season. Brown will be the late-inning stopper getting the tough outs in the closer role.
Right-handed sophomore Chris Sutherland will see increased action in 2008 after improving his overall mechanics and tempo. He will get innings out of the bullpen during the mid-week.
Left-handed freshman Ben Johnson will provide stability and depth for the staff. The Nashville Overton product will face left-handed matchups out of the pen while serving as a mid-week starter. Freshman left-hander Brent Amburn will see time out of the bullpen while he learns how to get outs at the college level. He always gives the defense a chance to play behind him because he throws a lot of strikes.
With key arms returning at the top and experienced junior college arms, the Trojans will once again be leaning on their pitching staff to lead them again in 2008.
Many new faces will patrol the outfield in 2008 along with a few returnees. Back for his senior season is Wade Angel, who had a great junior season and will be a mainstay in left field. The left-handed hitter adds power at the top of the lineup as a leadoff hitter and run-producer. Junior Chris Lowe had his best year as a Trojan last year when he racked up 95 hits and led the team in runs scored. Lowe is a cornerstone in the outfield and provides consistency and leadership at the top of the lineup. Lowe is a sure-handed defender with an above-average arm. Junior Omar DeJesus is an athletic player who is ready to be a factor. His improved defensive abilities and his speed will allow him to play a key role for this year’s team.
Newcomers Marty Parks, Blair Haskins and Nathan Wright are key additions for 2008. Parks, a junior transfer from Hiwassee CC, will provide stability at the top of the lineup and in centerfield. He will get the offense moving with his above-average speed, and he has game-changing ability. Junior Nathan Wright, from Meridian CC, will fight for an everyday job in the outfield. He has great overall strength and will be a middle-of-the-order hitter. As Wright continues to improve in the system, he should have a very good year in the purple and white. Haskins is a sophomore transfer from Motlow State CC. Blair is a plus runner who will fit in nicely with the Trojan’s offensive scheme. His playing time will increase as his skills continue to develop. Roaming the outfield for the first time are sophomore Jason Pope and red-shirt freshman Trevor Green. Both are transitioning from the infield to provide depth in key areas. Pope is a talented athlete with the ability to make an impact with his speed as well as his improved arm strength. Green is still developing his outfield skills. His arm strength and range improved in the fall. Green has continued to improve daily and will see time as a pinch-runner and pinch-hitter.
The infield expects to continue its solid defensive effort, despite replacing two significant contributors from last season. Newcomer Aaron Bree, a defender, will be the mainstay for the Trojans at shortstop. The Chandler Gilbert CC transfer displays great range and the ability to make things happen at the plate. He should find himself hitting at the top of the order, setting the table for the middle of the order.
Junior second-baseman Ross Muirhead brings good range and an unbelievable work ethic in his first season in the purple and white. Muirhead will team with Bree up the middle to provide great defensive stability. Senior third baseman/first baseman Dylan Lynch is great defensively and offensively. Lynch was chosen as a Rawlings Region XI Gold Glove winner in 2007 and provides the leadership necessary to make great things happen. The tough competitor has a relentless work ethic, and his energy makes him an important cog in the Trojans’ success.
Senior transfer Landry Walker and junior Angel Bermudez will battle for time at third base. Walker, a transfer from Ohio Dominican University, provides significant depth at third and second base. He will play important innings and supply offensive reliability at the bottom of the order. Bermudez provided depth at third base last season and has a strong work ethic that will see him produce more in 2008.
Battling for the first-base position will be juniors Cody Heggie and Adam Bland. Heggie, a Jackson State CC transfer, has great offensive promise and is working to become a middle-of-the-order hitter. He’s a steady defensive performer with a proven track record of success. Bland, the only returning first baseman, provides depth at the position and experience off the bench. He continues to improve defensively and will hit in the middle of the order.
Sophomore Seth Hawkins, a second baseman, continues to develop offensively and defensively and will have the opportunity to earn the everyday job. He has overall great strength and understands the team scheme. Freshman Chase Birdwell has improved during fall workouts and has an unbeatable work ethic that has infected the entire team and earned him time in the spring. His best days in the purple and white are ahead of him.
Seniors Brett Thaler and Justin Mundy will battle for the everyday job behind the plate in 2008. Thaler is tenacious behind the plate and exudes confidence in his abilities. He has improved offensively throughout the fall and will be a significant contributor in 2008. As for Mundy, the pitching staff has a great deal of confidence in him and his ability to understand the game. Mundy’s leadership will keep the pitching staff comfortable and confident. Brian Dirheimer, a junior transfer from Columbia State CC, will see significant time behind the plate as well. Dirheimer, who will serve as the designated hitter at times, will provide a much-needed power boost in the middle of the order. His offensive potential should get him into the line-up.
The 2008 Trojans are planning to continue their recent success. This year’s team has the potential to be one of the better teams in recent years. The depth on the mound, returning offense, and new contributors should prove to be a winning combination. As with any team, there are obstacles to negotiate to reach the ultimate dream of an NAIA World Series; a tough TranSouth schedule, a stern non-conference schedule, and a region chockful of top 25 talent. For the 2008 Trojans to make their mark with a NAIA World Series berth, they must continue to build on the foundation that has been laid. The Trojans are “Constructing Champions”!