This Valentine’s Day weekend, the Texas A&M baseball team opens its 2020 season with a three-game series against the Miami of Ohio Redhawks.
The Aggies enter this season with a new hitting coach, former Southern Mississippi’s associate head coach Chad Calliet. Replacing the departing Will Bolt, who was hired as the head coach of Nebraska, Calliet has installed a new offensive system that is designed around strength in getting extra bases.
A&M head coach Rob Childress said he is impressed with how the hitting has improved from last season.
“Last year we were dependent upon three singles to try to score runs in this league,” Childress said. “That's awful hard to do. We know we've got to have some guys in the middle that can challenge the fences, but also some guys at the front and the back that can create offense. We do have some guys that can do that, and it's been fun to watch thus far.”
Historically, the Aggies perform well in season-opening series, winning their last 20 opening weekend games since 2013. In 2019, A&M faced off against eventual Atlantic-10 champion Fordham, who they later faced in the regional, winning all three contests by two runs or more.
Despite their strength at opening the season, the team still faces pre-season jitters, said Childress.
“I get butterflies on opening day,” Childress said. “That's just a great feeling when to go out there here at Olsen field. We're going to have as many people that we can fit in the stadium. It's going to be an electric atmosphere. Nothing's changed for me for the time that I've been here; I'm looking forward to it and I'm excited and our players are excited. And looking forward to that first pitch.”
Entering this first weekend is a Miami of Ohio baseball team that ended last season with a 17-inning loss in the MAC Tournament to No. 6 Ohio. After winning 38 games last season, the offense returns eight of their nine everyday players, including second baseman Landon Stephens and designated hitter Cole Andrews, who were both First Team All-MAC selections in 2019.
Childress said a key for A&M defensively will be slowing down the Miami of Ohio offense.
“For us, we've got to slow their offense down,” Childress said. “They stole over 110 bases last year, so they're going to want to press us. We're going to have to do a great job controlling the running game, getting the lead off hitter and not letting them start up their offense.”
On the mound, Asa Lacy will replace the departing John Dokaxis as the Friday starter this year for the Aggies. Last season, Lacy was second on the Aggies with a 2.13 ERA while leading the team in strikeouts with 130.
Childress said Lacy will be an important part of the team on the mound.
“Being a Friday starter here at Texas A&M is certainly something that you have to go and earn,” Childress said. “We've been incredibly talented on the mound over the years. Nobody starts on Friday by default, they have to earn it with everything that they do, and Asa certainly earned that. I know he's going to give us the best chance to win on Friday.”
First pitch on Friday between A&M and Miami of Ohio is set for 6:30 p.m., with Lacy predicted to start for the Aggies. Saturday and Sunday’s games are set for 2 p.m. and 12 p.m. respectively, with Christian Roa starting on Saturday and Chandler Jozwiak pitching on Sunday. All three games will be streamed on SECN+ and can be heard on radio stations 1150 AM or 102.7 FM.