2014 Bethel University Baseball Season Preview-Cats Open Season Saturday
Coach Rusty Thompson (167-119) enters his seventh season at the helm as head coach of the Bethel University Wildcats. He and his staff are excited about their new chapter joining the Southern States Athletic Conference this season. The Wildcats are coming off their first TranSouth Conference Championship last season and look to continue the momentum into the 2014 campaign. Assistant coaches Nick Thompson and Eric Patton both return for their seventh year with the program. Jake Ramsey and Derek Hinson return for their second season as Graduate Assistants.
Bethel returns five starters from last year's championship team. Senior Outfielder Lance Jarreld, a two time All TranSouth selectee hit .400 with 66 hits, 43 runs scored, 14 doubles, 12 homeruns, and 43 RBIs in 2013. Also returning is ace pitcher Gary Ward, a 2012 New York Mets 21st round draft pick. After redshirting in 2013, The 6'1 195 senior lefty from Chesapeake, Virginia was a 2012 first team All TranSouth pitcher with an 8-1 record, 1.95 era, and 122 strikeouts.
Key Members of 2014 squad:
Seniors Lance Jarreld and Alonzo Powell are two returning starters in the outfield. Powell, the speedy outfielder from Memphis, Tennessee looks to anchor down centerfield for the Wildcats. Powell tallied 16 stolen bases in 2013.
Sophomore Michael Brasili will make the move to the outfield after starting at shortstop in 2013. Brasili looks to build off an impressive freshman campaign hitting .300 with four doubles and two homeruns. Junior Taylor Paterson brings pop and depth to the outfield unit while fellow Junior Seth Owens (Roane St CC) enters his first season with the Wildcats and looks to impress early on. Freshman Colton Kail from Crockett County High School rounds out the outfield for the Wildcats.
Bethel has added to their infield for the upcoming season and is excited about the unit. Senior transfer Ryan Huber from Freed Hardeman University was a 2013 First Team All -TranSouth selectee as well as a Gold Glove winner. Huber will bring experience at third base for the Wildcats.
Bethel also added a crop of new middle infielders. Junior Gadier Charriez from Toa Alto, Puerto Rico enters his first season at Bethel after spending two seasons at Southwest Community College in Memphis, Tennessee. Fellow incoming junior Wes Warren also enters his first season with the Wildcats. The junior from Hendersonville, Tennessee spent the past two seasons at Volunteer State CC in Gallatin, Tennessee. Warren and Charriez look to bring solid defense and solidify the top of the batting order in 2014. Freshman infielder Clayton Parker will provide depth to the middle infield.
Seniors Celtic Rush and Martin Key will bring leadership and experience to the first base position. Key looks to build off a strong junior campaign as he hit .281 with six doubles, two triples, three homeruns and 15 RBIs. Rush brings a strong left handed stick into the Wildcat lineup and looks to provide thump in the order. Freshman Adam Taylor from Liberty High School in Jackson, Tennessee will provide depth and talent at the corner positions for the Wildcats.
The position is highlighted by 2013 All TranSouth Gold Glove Catcher Taylor Follis. The Memphis native returns for his senior season and will anchor down the catching unit for the Wildcats. Follis caught 19 would be base stealers last season.
Juniors Tyler Lyons, Lee Whitaker, and Freshman Josh Ferguson from Crockett County will add depth to the position.
Bethel is excited to return five seniors on the pitching staff. These include LHP Gary Ward, RHP Turner Bush, RHP Keaton Gregory, RHP Michael Freeman, and RHP Hayden Smith. These five seniors will provide leadership to the pitching rotation, as well as experience.
Bethel has added valuable depth to the staff by adding a crop of newcomers to the unit. RHP Miguel Coronel (Southwest TN CC), RHP John Woodard (Paradise Valley CC AZ), RHP Garrett Perry (Jackson St CC), RHP Logan Dietz (Motlow St CC) and RHP Isaac Carr (Roane St CC) all will play a valuable part in the '14 campaign.
Sophomores are highlighted by 2013 First Team All TranSouth Pitcher Blake Chandler. Chandler tallied a 4-3 record with a 2.71 ERA. LHP Justin Roberts enters his first season at Bethel after two seasons at Dyersburg State CC. The freshman class is highlighted by RHP Clay Treece from Union City High School.
The Southern States Athletic Conference is known for its prestigious baseball. Faulkner, the 2013 NAIA Baseball National Champions, is ranked No.1 in the coaches' preseason baseball poll. Southern Polytechnic is No.17, William Carey is No. 24, and Belhaven is receiving votes. Bethel was selected sixth in the preseason conference coaches' poll. The Wildcats open the season at home on February 1st against Milligan College. Bethel will open conference play on February 21st at Southern Polytechnic State. Non-conference opponents also include No.10 Cumberland University, No. 25 Freed Hardeman University, NCAA Division II Union University, NCAA Division II Christian Brothers University, Harris Stowe State, Goshen College, Brescia University, and Mid Continent University