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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Path to Omaha starts with Seattle

Photo by Cameron Johnson

Senior OF Brett Minnich (23) bats on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park during A&M’s game against Sam Houston on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022.

Last season, questions were raised about Texas A&M baseball with almost a whole new roster, a new head coach and coaching staff. Coach Jim Schlossnagle and company laid all concerns to rest with an SEC West title and the farthest run in the College World Series in A&M history.

Now in 2023, the Aggies come into the preseason ranked No. 5 with completely different expectations this season. With many familiar faces and impactful new ones, A&M looks to build on last season’s success and make another run in Omaha, Neb.

“I think team chemistry is at an all-time high,” junior pitcher Nathan Dettmer told the Home Turf podcast. ”This team feels like it has the culture of last year with more talent.”

The Aggies return six of the nine position starters from 2022, including preseason All-Americans in junior first baseman Jack Moss and senior designated hitter Austin Bost.

Bost, who had a .360 batting average in 2022, was also awarded the No. 12 for the 2023 season. This honor was bestowed to catcher Troy Claunch for the 2022 season.

“I’ve grown up an Aggie my entire life,” Bost said. “Getting to watch Troy Claunch last year wear that [jersey], it just made me want it even more.”

Another pivotal returner for the Aggies is junior third baseman Trevor Werner. Werner, who was plagued with injury in 2022, only batted .256 in his limited appearances. Despite this, he received interest from MLB scouts but decided to come back to A&M for his junior year. Schlossnagle has high hopes for Werner going into the 2023 season.

“I nicknamed [Werner] my first week here SEC Boy, SEC Player of the Year,” Schlossnagle said. “I want him thinking in that mindset. I think he is capable of being that type of player. He is the most tooled-out player that I have ever coached.”

Despite all of the returning production for A&M, a few new key position pieces arrived this past offseason and are poised to have an immediate effect on the Aggies.

Freshman left fielder Jace LaViolette, who was the 27th-ranked outfield prospect in the 2022 class, opted out of the MLB Draft to attend A&M and has already shown his prowess in the preseason. In a fall scrimmage against Lamar, LaViolette went 3-for-4 with three home runs.

Another new player who will see immediate playing time for the Aggies is junior shortstop and Arizona State transfer Hunter Haas. Haas, who made the All-Pac-12 Defensive Team his freshman year, comes in to help an A&M infield that struggled in 2022, ranking 179th in fielding percentage to close the season.

A&M also returns key pieces in the bullpen with Dettmer, junior reliever Will Johnston and sophomore pitcher Chris Cortez.

Dettmer started 19 games for the Aggies last season, with his best outing coming in his final start. Against Notre Dame in the College World Series, Dettmer worked seven scoreless innings to help the Aggies secure victory in the elimination game, but after another offseason with A&M, the right-hander looks to elevate his game this season.

“The main point of the offseason was feeling out my body, getting bigger and stronger,” Dettmer said. “Not much throwing in the offseason, really just taking that step and feeling out my body and growing into who I am.”

Similarly to the dugout, the A&M pitching staff also grew deeper this offseason with the addition of players like freshman Justin Lamkin and sophomore Purdue transfer Troy Wansing.

Wansing started 12 games for the Boilermakers last season and was named to the All Big-10 Freshman Team, while Lamkin comes in as the No. 34 overall recruit in Texas and the No. 5 left-handed pitcher in the state.

With all of the pieces A&M has at its disposal, the Aggies look to start strong against their first opponent of the season, the Seattle University Redhawks.

Seattle is coming off of a less-than-optimal 2022 season that saw the Redhawks go 16-34, including losing their last seven in a row to close the season.

Pitching was an issue for Seattle last season, ranking 267 out of 293 teams in ERA at 7.64. Senior pitcher Peter Chronowski and junior pitchers Brady Liddle and Nestor German, who made up most of the Redhawks’ weekend starts last year, all return for Seattle.

On the batting side, Seattle’s hitting fared only slightly better than their pitching, being tied for 191st in hits on the season and tied for 224th in scoring. However, the Redhawks’ most efficient offensive weapon returns in 2023. Graduate infielder Matt Boissoneault led Seattle last year in most hitting categories, including batting average, slugging average, hits, RBIs, doubles, home runs and total bases.

First pitch for the series is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, at Olsen Field.

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