BEAUMONT, Texas – As the weather turns cool in the Golden Triangle the Lamar University baseball team looks to wrap up fall practice with the annual Fall World Series. The Cardinals completed their 23rd and final practice Wednesday afternoon and will take Thursday off to prepare for the annual event.
“After 23 tough practices and scrimmages we are turning the team over to our captains,” said LU head coach Will Davis. “It will be fun to watch the team in more of a ramped up competitive environment.”
All five games of the Fall World Series – if necessary – will take place at Vincent-Beck Stadium on the Lamar University campus. Game one will begin Friday at 3 p.m., followed by game two Monday at 3. Game three is scheduled to get under way Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. If necessary, game four will take place Wednesday at 3 p.m. A game time has not been scheduled for a fifth game, should it go the distance, but it would be played Thursday, Nov. 16.
The Cardinals enter the upcoming season returning three of their All-Southland selections from last season – Robin Adames, Tanner Driskill and Grant Devore. The returning all-conference selections, to go along with a long list of returning letterwinners have added a great deal of excitement for the upcoming season, but Davis and his coaching staff added to that excitement by bringing in one of top recruiting classes in program history.
Davis’ first full recruiting class as head coach was ranked 73rd in the nation by Perfect Game, and beat out several national powers including Rice (76), Houston (82) and Cal State Fullerton (87).
“It’s nice to see this group being recognized as a top-75 class by Perfect Game,” said Davis. “I’m not sure if we’ve ever had a top 100 class before, and to be ranked 73rd is impressive when you’re dealing with power five schools. The No. 1 class in the conference is obviously the goal and that is what we’ve achieved this year.”
A 21-person signing class, the focused on pitching talent for 2017. Fourteen of the 21 additions are pitchers (nine transfers and five prep signees), including seven lefthanders. The rest of the class breakdown includes five outfielders, four infielders, a catcher and a first basemen with several players having the ability to play multiple positions.
The LU coaching staff also placed high value on keeping Southeast Texas talent close to home. The 2017 class includes seven players from the area including Jack Dallas (West Orange-Stark HS), Brendan Dunkleberger (Nederland HS), Chet Jones (Kirbyville HS), Chase Kemp (Nederland HS), Logan Lejune (Port Neches-Groves HS), Rhett McCall (Barbers Hill HS) and Chase Partain (Silsbee HS).
“Being my first real recruiting class we wanted to achieve a number of goals,” said Davis. “First, we’ve totally revamped our pitching staff bringing in a number of talented arms. This class includes some junior college guys with accolades to go along with some very interesting high school kids who have a chance to be very good. A second thing we have done with the class is we’ve become much more athletic. Finally, we really wanted to recruit the local area as best we can. We feel like we’ve added a lot of very solid local players who will help our program.
“We also wanted to bring in a large freshmen class and start to build something here at Lamar. I believe-a 13-man freshman class is one of the largest on record here,” added Davis.
The incoming class of recruits will have another opportunity to fight for playing time during the upcoming season Friday when they take the field for first game. In addition to the new players, Davis also added a new pitching coach to his staff. Davis hired Sean Snedeker to work with the Cardinals’ pitching staff.
Snedeker comes to LU after building one of the nation’s strongest pitching staffs at Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles finished the 2017 season ranked sixth in nation with a 3.06 earned run average. The Golden Eagles' staff surrendered fewer than nine hits per nine innings last season while ranking among the nation's top 10 in shutouts (8).
Snedeker's staff also averaged nearly nine strikeouts per nine 9 innings last season while helping guide the Golden Eagles to a 43-win season and a trip to the NCAA championships. ORU's staff set the table for a team that won the Summit League with a near perfect 25-4 (.862) record. The Golden Eagles won the regular-season title by 6.5 games.