After three straight top 25 rankings, the Jackets are eager to enter the 2020 season. The team has now earned recognition from D1Baseball as No. 19, Baseball America as No. 21, and most recently USA Today as No. 22 in the country.
Last year’s stand-out season sure has some big shoes to fill in 2020. Not only that, but also with five of eight position returners there will be a heavy learning curve as 19 freshmen get acclimated to the program’s expectations.
The Technique sat down with four of the baseball stars themselves to get a look into preseason practices and look ahead into the season ahead.
Senior pitcher, Andy Archer, was out for the entirety of the 2019 season due to injury. While some may see an injury as a setback, Archer shares, “Missing so much time reignited my passion for the game. I can’t wait to get back out on the field and win games with my teammates that supported me so well when I was injured.”
Although Archer’s tenure on the team is longer than most, he explains that it doesn’t make preseason practices any less stressful. In fact he talks about a decent level of healthy competition as teammates work for their starting roles.
Archer says, “We always say that ‘competition breeds success,’ and I believe that when there is playing time on the line, we have the players that will rise to meet the occasion.”
Junior infielder, Luke Waddell, scored 58 appearances last season- starting in all of them. In 2019 alone, Waddell was extremely decorated with titles including 2018–2019 ACC Academic Honor Roll, 2019 All-ACC Academic Team and 2019 Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Finalist. If that isn’t enough, he averaged 10.6 at-bats per strikeout earned him recognition as third in the ACC and 45th in the country.
This upcoming season Waddell shares he is most excited about the matchup against UGA, after their game at SunTrust Park last season, because, “we had all of our fans there and we won the series that day and overall it was just a great win for our program.” There’s just something about the saying “To Hell with Georgia” that gets more than just the Tech baseball fans going. Last year’s game in SunTrust had, “The largest attendance at any regular season college baseball game in 2019,” according to another junior infielder, Michael Guldberg. Guldberg is another teammate who is extremely eager for the big battle of the state against the Dawgs this season.
Guldberg led the Jackets in hitting to land second in the ACC with .355 last year. Preseason for him this year means excitement and lots of hard work.
Guldberg says, “Preseason practice is a really exciting time. We start with position specific defensive drills, then go into ‘team defense’ [when fielders work on bunts, cuts and relays]. After that, we have batting practice and often play an intrasquad game.”
Finally, freshman Jake Holland shares his experience and mindset as he jumps onto the roster with 18 other freshmen Jackets. Holland says, “I’m looking forward to learning from our older guys. They’ve been through things they can pass onto me that will help us be an even better team this year.”
With the team’s goal of being “best team in the state, the ACC and the country,” according to Archer, there is potential in store for this star roster of athletes. Archer, Waddell, Guldberg, Holland and team look to see Russ Chandler packed for their Feb. 14 opener.