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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies open 2019 season behind rare trio of left-handed starting pitchers

Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver

Sophomore shortstop Braden Shewmake had two runs and two hits in his five at bats.

The Texas A&M baseball team opens its 2019 campaign at Blue Bell Park against Fordham on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
“We’ve dodged some rain drops, but we’ve been on the field each and every day in preparation for tomorrow,” A&M’s head coach Rob Childress said Thursday. “I feel like our guys are prepared and certainly ready to play someone else.”
The Aggies will trot out a trio of left-handed pitchers – junior John Doxakis, sophomore Asa Lacy and freshman Jonathan Childress – this weekend. It’s the first time since 1993 the Aggies will have straight southpaws starting in the weekend rotation. The three starters are no slouches either, with each pumping pitches in the low to mid 90s.
“I feel like each one of those three guys is going to give us a chance to win each day,” Childress said. “It’s going to force some opposing teams to decide what they want to do with their lineup coming into the series.”
Childress is also keen on the potential of first-year player Jonathan Childress, who stands at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds.
“He’s got outstanding stuff and was a super-talented high school guy, had a great career,” Childress said. “But he’s got a pitch he can go to when he needs to strike someone out. He’s got a very good breaking ball, certainly has an overpowering fastball.”
While the lefties will let loose in the opening innings, Childress said right-handers Christian Roa and Bryce Miller can provide long relief outings from the bullpen.
At the plate, the Aggies have options from both sides and their depth goes past the nine-man lineup. Childress said the opening weeks will be critical for establishing a consistent lineup as the season progresses.
“For us, we’ve got probably 15 hitters we feel comfortable about,” Childress said. “Throughout the first three weeks, we play 15 games, so we’re going to get to see a lot of different looks.”
Centerfielder Zach DeLoach paced the Aggies at the top of the order for most of the 2018 season, but Childress said the second-year slugger will likely drop with second baseman Bryce Blaum and right fielder Logan Foster pacing the top of A&M’s lineup.
The Aggies return six starters in the field, led by shortstop Braden Shewmake and outfielders Foster and DeLoach. Added with the complete return of right fielder Cam Blake, who was limited to 23 games last season in a hitter-only role after suffering a preseason shoulder injury, the Aggies boast a trio of experienced outfielders.
“With the outfield, we definitely have a few guys that have came back and we have some new guys who can definitely swing the sticks and can play the position really well,” right fielder Logan Foster said. “That’s one thing about this season – we’ve got a lot of depth at every position.”
Looking at this weekend, Fordham is coming off one of its best seasons after going 35-19-1 in 2018. The Rams are picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic 10’s preseason poll. The three-game series will be the first time the Aggies and Rams will have met on the diamond.
Childress noted how the Rams led the nation in stolen bases last season, swiping 169 bags. Fordham returns its top three baserunners — Jake MacKenzie, Billy Gordick and Alvin Melendez — which will force A&M’s defense to stay on its toes.
“We’re going to have to do our very best to keep them off first base,” Childress said. “We’re going to have to defend the bunt and make sure we get an out each and every time they do bunt, but slow them down on the bases. That’s a really important part of their offense. They’re going to have to make some decisions and flip a coin as to when they’re wanting to run, at least steal second [base] with a left-handed pitcher on the mound.”
While the 2019 season begins Friday, A&M’s end goal is written in bright letters at the end of the hall outside the locker room – Omaha. The Aggies will aim to play well enough to potentially host a regional for the first time in three seasons, which would make a run to the greatest show on dirt potentially easier.
“That’s definitely something we’re looking at in the very near-future,” Lacy said. “But we’re just going to go out there and take it one game at a time, one at-bat at a time, one pitch at a time.”
First pitch on Friday will be at 6:30 p.m. with Saturday’s game beginning at 2 p.m. and Sunday’s starting at noon. All three games will be aired on SEC Network Plus.

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