SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 17, 2019) - Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) baseball Head Coach Bryan Aughney is in his second season, while the Saints are beginning their fifth season of competition. In his first year, Aughney did a lot of observing on what the team did well and not so well.
"I wanted to be able to capitalize on the good things going into the spring. Also we needed to attack the needs we had in recruiting."
The team has been working hard in the fall to get ready for their season. "Our early spring practices have been really good; we have good energy, so our goal is to go in and get a conference championship," Aughney said.
One of the team's biggest challenges is to dominate LSU-Alexandria and LSU-Shreveport – both of whom have owned the Red River Athletic Conference for the past eight years. Shreveport has won five regular season and six tournament titles, while Alexandria has notched three regular season titles and one tournament title.
"Both are really good programs and both have really good coaches. As long as we take care of ourselves, and we are playing well when we have those two as opponents, I like our chances."
The conference preseason poll was released last November. It is as follows:
- LSU-Shreveport (22-5 / 40-22)
- LSU-Alexandria (19-8 / 32-27)
- Texas A&M University at Texarkana (18-9 / 35-19)
- Jarvis Christian College (14-13 / 28-30)
- Our Lady of the Lake University (16-11 / 25-29)
- University of the Southwest (12-15 / 27-21)
- University of Houston-Victoria (10-17 / 14-31)
- Texas College (10-17 / 25-28)
- Wiley College (10-17 / 16-24)
- Huston-Tillotson University (4-23 / 8-40)
Shreveport was the only conference team to earn NAIA Baseball Coaches' Preseason Poll inclusion. They are No. 25.
The Saints will begin their preseason with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. on Jan. 25 hosting the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO). Throwing out the first pitch will be OLLU alumnus David Marte, who played two seasons for the Saints. He received his undergraduate degree and is the first baseball player to earn a postgraduate degree.
The Saints will return to Missions Baseball Academy on Jan. 26 for a game at 12 p.m. against USAO, who are ranked 11th in the NAIA.
The Saints will continue their nonconference preseason schedule throughout February hosting No. 21 Central Methodist University, Sterling College, Panhandle State University, Midland University and Texas A&M International University.
Aughney said, "Our schedule is a grinder. It's going to be a test, so we just have to come out and play our style of clean baseball."
Aughney said, "We return a lot of guys. We started, at times last year, six freshmen. In the outfield, Jay Collazo [Jorge Collazo Jr.) got a lot of playing time for us; Matt Mihalov returns as a junior and we're really excited about what he can bring; Jose Diaz has developed into our leader – he's put in a lot of hard work and we're really excited about what he will accomplish. We also have Daniel Anciso, who was behind the plate and DH, and Robert Lopez is on track to be 100 percent for us behind the plate. Jacob Mitchell played a lot at first, and he is back this spring. Others are Nick Ludwig and Erik Trevino. Ryan Ramsey is back and we look forward to having him have a really good campaign. Others include Alec Martinez and Ryan Chapa, and our pitchers Ty Cook and Triston Scherer. TJ Kassner also returns after leaving for a few years. We're really excited about his leadership and the intangibles that he brings. He's just a very good baseball IQ guy, and I think he's really going to help his teammates by passing on his knowledge."
Diaz (outfielder) and Logan Garza (relief pitcher) were selected as NAIA Players to Watch by Collegiate Baseball.
OLLU's returners include sophomores: Roland Cantu (returning RS), Ryan Chapa, Jorge Collazo Jr., Ty Cook, Alex Garza, Logan Garza, Adrian Gonzalez Jr., EricTyler Guerrero (returning RS), Alec Martinez, Jacob Mitchell, Andrew Ogletree, Triston Scherer, Erik Trevino; juniors: Joey Baker, Jose Diaz, Tony Esparza, Robert Lopez, Matt Mihalov, Xavier Solis, Colton Vien; and seniors Daniel Anciso, Mick Hernandez, TJ Kassner, Nick Ludwig, Ryan Ramsey.
"We've got quite a few freshmen and a few transfers. We had to address some needs on the mound, especially with the departure of last year's seniors JB Martinez and Jordan Hackett. We had to go out and replace those, and we brought in a couple of transfers who will hopefully take up where those guys left off. One of them is Trey [Jose] Ramirez, whom I have known a long time, a Valley guy. I'm excited about what he's done some far in the preseason."
Regarding other newcomers, Aughney said, "We've brought in some good freshmen. I really like our freshmen, especially Jacob Montejano from Brandeis [San Antonio], Brett Vasquez, a pitcher from Houston, Bryce Putnum, a freshman behind the plate. They have all done really well."
Newcomers include: freshmen: Boedy Flores, Matthew Klar, Layne Klostermann, Khristopher McRae, Daniel Melecio, Jacob Montejano, Bryce Putnam, Jacob Ramirez, Noah Rodriguez, Brett Vasquez; sophomores: Alvaro Pena; juniors: Aaron Gonzalez, Jose Ramirez.
Under Aughney' s leadership, the baseball team has made academics a priority. As a result, the team earned NAIA Scholar Team recognition – the first baseball quad to do so in four years. His team in fall 2018 recorded a 3.006 GPA, and squad members tallied 12 with GPAs of 3.0-3.49 (the most from any team at OLLU), seven with GPAs of 3.5-3.99 and three with 4.0 GPAs. Aughney said "More importantly [than baseball], our job as a staff and coach is to get these guys a degree. We talk about the classroom every day. We tell than at one point baseball is going to finish and then what are you going to do? So we talk about taking pride in everything they do and that includes the classroom.
The coaching staff remains the same with fifth-year assistant coach Jeremy Flores and Chaplain Cristopher Robinson returning; second-year graduate student Matt Beasley and volunteer-assistant Nate Gunty; and first-year student assistant Mike Light.
"Flores is our pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. He's been here since the program started, so he's pretty vested in what we do and he cares about this program. Plus, he does a great job with the pitchers and with our recruiting."
"Matt does a great job with our strength and conditioning. He is certified, and our guys have gotten a lot faster and a lot stronger. He also works a lot with our hitters.
"Mike Light is completing his educational work. He was a catcher/DH for us last year and he's been very awesome working with our catchers every day.
"Nate Gunty volunteers his time. He's a training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base. It's great to have him lend his knowledge, and he's someone for our players to talk to and see where people go in their lives. He's had a lot of experiences so it's nice to have him here.
"Finally we have Father Cris, our team chaplain. He does an amazing job just being around our guys and lending another ear to them as we help these young men navigate this time of life being a student athlete."
Aughney expresses his fondness toward the Saints alumni. "They are going to be very important to us, if not already. We have a pretty good database of those who have graduated from the program, who have gone on to start their careers and families. We are hoping they come out and see us play and enjoy the product we put out on the field. Our plan is to have our first alumni game in the fall. But we definitely invite them to come out and watch us play this spring."
How to watch the Saints
The Saints will play all of their home games at Missions Baseball Academy located at 5707 Highway 151 in San Antonio. "We've done a few facilities upgrades, so we think the community will like the changes we've made. We hope to see you at the ballpark – GO SAINTS!"
Select home games will be livestreamed through the OLLUSaintsNetwork on Stretch Internet. Fans will be able to stream home games on KSAT.com by downloading the app on your phone, accessing it online ar watching it on your smart tv.