January 26, 2017

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MARTIN, Tenn. – Spring practice is set to begin this Friday, Jan. 27 for the University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team under third-year head coach Rick Robinson.

The Skyhawks are looking to build off of last year’s 19 wins, including nine against Ohio Valley Conference opponents. The overall win total was the most since 2011 while the nine conference wins tied for second-most in program history.

“The first day of practice is always exciting,” Robinson said. “Knowing that the first game is only 21 days away gives you a sense of urgency to make sure that the players are prepared for whatever might happen opening weekend. It also forces us to start making decisions on the line-up and pitching rotation. I can honestly say that we are more prepared to compete for an OVC championship than we were at this point in the previous two seasons.”

Ryan Helgren is amongst the returning position players for the Skyhawks, leading the squad last season with a .321 average and .545 slugging percentage. Daniel Kerwin returns behind the plate for UT Martin where his 16 double last season rank seventh all-time in program history for a single season. Tanner Wessling (five homers) and Josh Hauser (nine doubles) will also provide veteran leadership for the Skyhawks. UT Martin’s 10.26 hits per game were the most since 2010 and third most in program history.

On the mound, senior Alex Evans, junior Dalton Westfall and sophomore Dom Bazzani will anchor the Skyhawk pitching staff. Evans finished last season with a team-leading eight wins which were the second-most in a single season and most since 2010. Before suffering from an injury, Westfall went 2-1 in four starts while holding opposing hitters to a .196 average. Bazzani’s 71 strikeouts rank as the fifth most in program history. The Skyhawks were 17-0 on the year when leading after six innings.

Several newcomers made an impact in the fall and will be key contributors to UT Martin this season. Creighton Eldridge will complement the Skyhawk outfielders coming off a season at McLennan CC where he posted a .273 average with 21 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. Peyton Cain will be looking to make his mark with the UT Martin pitching staff coming off a successful season at East Central CC in Decatur, Miss. Cain boasted an impressive 10-2 record, while striking out 42 hitters.

The Skyhawks will open up at home for the first time since 2010 as they welcome Buffalo to Skyhawk Field Feb. 17-19. 

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