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The Battalion

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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New season with a new look

A&M baseball returns with a revamped roster against McNeese State
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Photo by CJ Smith
Sophomore OF Jace LaViolette (17) points to third base during A&M’s Open Practice at Olsen Field on Tuesday, Feb. 13. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

With love in the air and spring just under way, No. 8 Texas A&M baseball is back.

Though the Aggies came into the 2023 season as the No. 4 team in the country, much like football, it was a season to forget. They dropped below .500 in conference play and were squandered in the NCAA Stanford Regional by the home team.

Coach Jim Schlossnagle went out and got to work in the offseason. He brought in 10 transfers, headlined by junior OF/P Braden Montgomery. The Stanford transfer was the No. 1 player in the portal and has built an impressive resume being named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2022, made Pac-12 All-Conference and helped Stanford make the College World Series in back-to-back years.

Furthermore, the Cardinal product finished 2023 hitting .336 with 17 home runs and 61 RBIs. He ranked third in the Pac-12 in walks with 51.

Between him and star sophomore OF Jace LaViolette, the two have made this Aggie baseball season a must-see as they racked in Preseason All-SEC Honors. They were named as unanimous All-Americans and were named to the 2024 Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List.

Besides the big splash in Montgomery, the Aggies got junior INF Ali Camarillo, senior C Jackson Appel, graduate OF Hayden Schott and senior INF Ted Burton.

Camarillo finished second in the Big West in batting average at .371, fourth in slugging percentage with .611 and earned All-Big West First Team honors.

Appel led Pennsylvania in runs, triples and walks as well as being the only player on the Quakers to record a four-hit game. His two-run homer clinched a NCAA Regional win over No. 13 Auburn.

Coming from Columbia, Schott tied the team-high in home runs at 11 and was ranked in the top 10 in Ivy League hitters in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, OPS, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs and at-bats. He also tied Columbia’s record for most doubles in a game and was the lone Ivy League hitter to double three times in a game for the season.

Michigan transfer Burton finished the 2023 campaign with an All-Big Ten Third Team Selection at second base and led the Wolverines in home runs with 13. He hit .301 on the season and added 45 RBIs. During his tenure at Michigan, he was named the top infielder in 2022.

With all-conference honors between the four of them and team-leading statistics in respective categories, A&M came out with the fourth-best transfer class.

Besides the transfer portal, Schlossnagle continued his preseason work in recruiting, starting with freshman Gavin Grahovac. Grahovac, a five-star recruit, was the No. 2 outfielder in California and No. 10 in the country and was tabbed as the Preseason SEC Freshman of the Year.

Though LaViolette and Montgomery have been the dynamic duo garnering the attention, the Aggies boast a total of eight players in the top-100 players in their respective positions.

LaViolette and Montgomery come in at third and sixth for outfielders respectively, Grahovac is ranked 14th for third basemen and Camarillo brings his shortstop pedigree with a No. 10 ranking. For pitchers, sophomore LHP Justin Lamkin and junior RHP Tanner Jones land at 61 and 81 for starters while redshirt senior RHP Zane Badmaev and senior LHP Evan Aschenback snag 21 and 28 for relievers.

With all the preseason hype and additions, Aggie fans will see it come to life starting Friday, Feb. 16 as A&M welcomes McNeese State to Blue Bell Park at 6 p.m.

The two ball clubs haven’t matched up since 2008 with the Maroon and White leading the series by a wide margin of 25-5.

The Cowboys have steadily improved every year and with more wins every season, McNeese extended coach Justin Hill’s contract through the 2026 season.

Though they fell short in the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament, the Cowboys’ season was full of exciting surprises, keeping it close with No. 5 LSU and having a seven-game win streak at one point.

The Cowboys also boast senior OF Cooper Hext, who was selected to the Preseason All-Conference Second Team.

With new additions and players garnering preseason awards, the Aggies will look to add onto the winning history against McNeese.

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About the Contributor
Justin Chen
Justin Chen, Sports Writer
Justin Chen is a journalism senior minoring in sport management and communication. Justin has covered football, men's basketball, volleyball, baseball and swim & dive. Justin also writes feature NBA pieces and covered the Miami Heat for Sir Charles In Charge. When not writing, he likes to frequent the gym, support Arsenal and watch anime.
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