The Belmont baseball team will face many challenges after the departure of some of its best players, but it has some rising stars could step up and lead the team.
The Bruins are coming off a disappointing 2018 season, finishing with an overall record of 19-36 and a conference record of 11-19. In addition, Belmont needs to fill some massive holes left by key players Matt Cogen, Dylan King and Kyle Conger.
Cogen was one of the team’s best hitters last season, as he led the team at the plate with 51 RBIs, 10 homeruns and a batting average of .372. Cogen was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers organization in the 30th round of the MLB Draft in June.
King, who would’ve been the team’s best pitcher this season, left school after being drafted by the Los Angeles Angels organization in the 18th round of the MLB Draft King.
Conger was statistically the second best hitter on the team, with 33 RBIs, a slugging percentage of .478 and a batting average of .303.
Though these losses are immense, head coach Dave Jarvis knows losing players is part of college sports, and the current team will adapt.
“Losing these players to the draft is a challenge, as they are, of course, two of your best players, but we also see it as a testament to our player development program and as an opportunity for other players now to step into those roles that they left,” Jarvis said.
One player who is already stepping into a larger role is senior Casey Queener.
Queener was selected to the 2019 Preseason All-OVC Baseball Team on Friday after his stellar 2018 season.
He stepped up as the Bruins’ top pitcher after King was sidelined. Queener pitched a 4.22 ERA in 14 starts and a team high 85.1 innings pitched.
Another pitcher who will be fun to watch is sophomore Kyle Brennan, who was recently named as one of 75 players on the Stopper of the Year Award Watch List by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. The award is given to the top relief pitcher in Division I baseball.
Brennan pitched excellently in 2018 with a 2.83 ERA in 28 game appearances, and he secured three saves.
The Bruins were picked to finish seventh in the OVC Preseason Media Poll. Morehead State was picked to win the conference, while back-to-back champions Tennessee Tech will finish third behind Jacksonville State.
Though Belmont’s expectations are low and need to fill massive holes on offense, Jarvis is excited to see how the season unfolds.
“It is exciting to see the progress we have made and anxious to see it against the outside competition that ours season will provide,” said Jarvis.
Games to watch out for:
Opening day, Friday Feb. 15. Belmont vs. Illinois State at E.S. Rose Park.
Belmont vs. Morehead State series, weekend of March 8 at E.S. Rose Park.
Battle of the Boulevard, March 12. Belmont vs Lipscomb at E.S. Rose Park.
Belmont vs. No. 1 Vanderbilt, March 19 at First Tennessee Park.