Davidson Baseball’s Taylor Pleased with Team’s Fall Progress
The fall practice period for baseball ended Nov. 1, and first-year head coach Rucker Taylor liked what he saw from both returners and newcomers alike, whether they were in the batting cages or on the base paths or pushing each other in the Red-Black World Series or the weight room.
“I was pleased with this fall,” said Taylor, who spent the previous four seasons as the Wildcats’ associate head coach and the two prior to that as an assistant. “I thought the older guys did a great job of setting the pace of expectations of how we do things. The freshmen came in physically strong and emotionally mature and were able to jump in at full speed. There wasn’t much of a learning curve for many of those guys. We had some minor injuries to a few older guys, which allowed a lot of younger guys to get a lot of innings and at-bats. I think we’ll see a benefit of that this season and down the road.”
Davidson is coming off a 33-21 campaign, in which the Wildcats set a single-season program record for regular-season wins (32). Combined with the NCAA Super Regional run in 2017, Davidson has won 68 games the last two seasons.
Six everyday starters are set to return this year, including senior catcher/infielder Eric Jones, a second-team Atlantic 10 pick a year ago. The Charlotte native was an offensive force in 2018 and led the Wildcats in batting average (.333), hits (67), doubles (14) and RBI (60), and his 11 home runs led the team along with fellow senior returner Justin Lebek, who earned A-10 all-tournament honors.
The Wildcats have now transitioned to individual skill and weight room work. The team will hold a Wildcat Challenge in the weight room the week after Thanksgiving break, which will include four groups competing in a multitude of strength, athletic, speed and endurance challenges.
Along with Taylor’s move on the coaching staff, assistant coach Ryan Munger, now entering his sixth season, has added the role of recruiting coordinator. Parker Bangs was hired as pitching coach, and Kyle Lindquist is serving as volunteer assistant coach.
“With two new coaches, there were some new ideas we implemented this fall, and I feel like we made some individual and team progress,” said Taylor. “The next month or so will be important for guys to progress individually, so we’ll be at our best collectively once the spring practice period starts. In total, it was a productive fall and a clear improvement since we started. We were able to challenge the guys, but had some fun while doing so.”
Official practice will begin Jan. 25. The 2019 schedule is being finalized and will be released soon, but the Wildcats will open the season against Towson Feb. 15-17 at Wilson Field.
-Seniors talk about the upcoming season