A team is judged on its ability to recruit and develop young talent, and if this year’s group of Belmont freshmen is any indication, the baseball will be in good shape for years to come.
The Bruins have 10 freshmen on this year’s roster, which is tied for 7th youngest in all of college baseball.
Several have already worked their way into the starting lineup and have played key roles for the team during a season that has seen more-experienced players miss time due to injury.
“As to be expected, they are going through some growing pains, but they’re contributing,” said Belmont coach Dave Jarvis. “They’ve stepped in for areas where we’ve had injuries and they have done a respectable job.”
One of the more prominent freshmen is Nick Egli, who mainly stands in as a designated hitter.
Egli has quickly made an impact for the Bruins and is second on the team in home runs with 3, fourth in RBIs with 13 and fourth in hits with 19.
“I just wanted to play, work hard and try to get in the lineup and that’s what I did,” said Egli.
The pitching mound also benefits from the team’s youth.
Freshman Christopher Carroll has provided key relief work in his 19 appearances so far this season. His work on the mound has included 24 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched.
“His overall numbers don’t necessarily show it, but he has been extremely good for us as a pitcher out of our bullpen,” said Jarvis.
The freshmen have also made their presence felt on the defensive side of the ball, which is an area that the baseball team excels at as a whole. Freshman infielder Tyler Walsh currently leads the team in fielding assists with 99.
“I’ve seen some of the defensive plays that Walsh had made,” said Jarvis. “He has contributed tremendously on the defensive end for us.”
Drake Byrd is also a defensive standout for Belmont as he is currently second on the team in putouts with 230 for the season. Freshmen Zach Hald, Brennan Washington and Rafael Bournigal have also made the most of their opportunities so far by being among the Bruins who have recorded perfect fielding percentages so far this season.
As the freshmen continue to work to make a name for themselves, they are being led and mentored by experienced seniors and juniors.
“Our senior class is not exactly a group of very vocal guys, but I think they are great example guys,” said Jarvis. “They have given a quiet kind of leadership in the way that they go about their business.”
This dynamic between the upper- and underclassmen is very important to the freshman and has helped the younger players acclimate to college life, Egli said.
The freshmen have quickly made their presence known, and have the benefit of three more years to continue to grow.
“I hope we win the OVC championship a couple times and just have fun doing it,” said Egli.