Two for Tulane

Green Wave looks for back-to-back conference baseball titles



Tulane starts the 2017 baseball season tonight against Army. The 2016 American Athletic Conference Regular Season Champions got off to a fanastic start last year when catcher Jeremy Montalbano hit a two-run walkoff home run to win on opening night game.

            Tulane baseball players have made no secret that their new head coach is a bit different that his calm-demeanored predecessor, and Travis Jewett says a piece of equipment that is more suited for the gridiron than the diamond illustrates their point.

            “I carry a whistle around my neck at practice, and if some guy makes a great running catch in the gap, like, I’m blowing the thing as loud as I can to let him know I’m into his effort,” Jewett said on the eve of his inaugural season Uptown. “That’s just my personality. I’m probably more like a football coach than baseball when it comes to that.”

            Jewett has been preaching a consistent message since he arrived in July – success. In his office and in the tunnel between the team’s locker room and the dugout hang identical signs that read “College World Series” underlined by “The Road to Omaha”. Tulane’s “Angry Wave” logo and Riptide, the school’s pelican mascot, bookend either side of the text. The signs are reminders of his ultimate goal as well as his belief in his players’ ability to reach the sport’s ultimate heights. It’s a belief he’s had since he first stepped on campus.

            “We're more than capable of getting to Omaha,” he said at his introductory press conference. “Not only getting to Omaha, but to win a national championship. It's doable, and I see it.”

            Jewett came to Tulane from Vanderbilt, a private, academic peer institution, where he won a national championship as assistant head coach and recruiting director. He served previously as recruiting coordinator and batting coach at baseball powerhouse Arizona State.

            At the start of his first season in charge of the Green Wave, he’s confident, and has reason to be. Tulane won the American Athletic Conference’s regular season championship last year, and he’s got a team loaded with senior leadership, experienced undergraduates, and a few freshmen who will break into the lineup.

            “We’ve got a lot of guys out there who are going to play early that have a lot of at bats, a lot of innings on the mound.”

            Seniors will start the season at every field position except for shortstop and right field. The Green Wave will have Hunter Williams at first base, Jake Willsey at second, Hunter Hope at third, Jeremy Montalbano behind the plate, Jarret DeHart in left field and Lex Kaplin in center. Sophomore Grant Witherspoon will play right field. Freshmen Sal Gozzo and Kody Hoese will platoon at shortstop.

            The starting pitching staff returns almost in tact. Senior Corey Merrill will be the Friday night starter, redshirt junior J.P. France will hurl the ball on Saturdays, and sophomore Ross Massey will pitch on Sundays. Jewett said there will be revolving starters for mid-week games to start the season. Ted Andrews, a graduate transfer from Furman, will be the team’s closer.

            But, much like the start of last season, middle relief is not set.

            “As experienced as we are from a position player, from a starting rotation, we’re probably as inexperienced for the mid-week to the bullpen to the closer,” Jewett said. “It’s a huge concern, because there’s not a lot of experience there to go off of. Now if our talent is above our experience, that’s helpful. We’re still trying to figure out if that’s the case at this point, and we need to be tested to see. There will be competition, and that’s a good thing.”

            Those close to the program said Jewett’s coaching style is much different from his predecessor, David Pierce, who left to become head baseball coach at the University of Texas.

            “I’ve heard I’m  more fiery, emotional, energetic,” Jewett said. “I’ve got a firecracker up my rear end. I’m rah-rah. I want to have fun. I want our kids to have fun. I want them smiling. When I see their teeth I know they’re having a good time doing what they love to do with who they’re doing it with.

            “That’s just my personality. You’re going to see us fist bumping a lot and saluting each other. It’s good for team chemistry. And it exciting for the fans. They will feed off of us, and then we’ll feed off of them.”

 

Taking the Field

In addition to a new coaching staff, Greer Field at Turchin Stadium had an offseason makeover. The entire field, including infield and pitcher’s mound, was replaced with updated turf. It is designed to look like multi-shaded designs were mowed into the field, including Tulane’s Angry Wave logo in shallow center field.

 

Tulane Starting Lineup

Catcher – Jeremy Montalbano

First Base – Hunter Williams

Second Base – Jake Willsey

Third Base – Hunter Hope

Shortstop – Sal Gozzo/ Kody Hoese

Left Field – Jarret DeHart

Center Field – Lex Kaplin

Right Field – Grant Witherspoon

Designated Hitter – Matt Rowland

Friday Starting Pitcher – Corey Merrill

Saturday Starting Pitcher – J.P. France

Sunday Starting Pitcher – Ross Massey

Midweek Starting Pitchers – TBD 

Closer – Ted Andrews

 

Travis Jewett at a glance

Education: Washington State, 1993

Wife: Tracy

Sons: Tanner and Tommy

Coaching Experience

2017 –Tulane University, Head Coach

2016-13 – Vanderbilt University, Associate Head Coach

2010-12 – Arizona State University, Associate Head Coach

2005-09 – Washington State University, Associate Head Coach

2002-04 – University of Washington, Assistant Coach

1999-2001 – Gonzaga University, Assistant Coach

 

Date Time Opponent Location
Fri., Feb 17 6:30 p.m. Army Turchin Stadium
Sat., Feb 18 4 p.m. Air Force Turchin Stadium
Sun., Feb 19 1 p.m. Army Turchin Stadium
Tue., Feb 21 6 p.m. @ SLU Hammond, La.
Fri., Feb 24 2 p.m. @ UC Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, Calif.
Sat., Feb 25 2 p.m. @ UC Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, Calif.
Sun., Feb 26 1 p.m. @ UC Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, Calif.
Wed., Mar 1 6 p.m. @ Southern Miss Hattiesburg, Miss.
Fri., Mar 3 6:30 p.m. West Virginia Turchin Stadium
Sat., Mar 4 4 p.m. West Virginia Turchin Stadium
Sun., Mar 5 1 p.m. West Virginia Turchin Stadium
Tue., Mar 7 6:30 p.m. Louisiana-Lafayette Turchin Stadium
Thu., Mar 9 6:30 p.m. San Diego Turchin Stadium
Fri., Mar 10 6:30 p.m. San Diego Turchin Stadium
Sat., Mar 11 4 p.m. San Diego Turchin Stadium
Sun., Mar 12 1 p.m. San Diego Turchin Stadium
Wed., Mar 15 6 p.m. @ Nicholls State Thibodaux, La.
Fri., Mar 17 6:30 p.m. Columbia Turchin Stadium
Sat., Mar 18 4 p.m. Columbia Turchin Stadium
Sun., Mar 19 1 p.m. Columbia Turchin Stadium
Tue., Mar 21 6:30 p.m. McNeese State Turchin Stadium
Fri., Mar 24 6:30 p.m. Stetson Turchin Stadium
Sat., Mar 25 4 p.m. Stetson Turchin Stadium
Sun., Mar 26 1 p.m. Stetson Turchin Stadium
Tue., Mar 28 6:30 p.m. @ LSU Baton Rouge, La.
Fri., Mar 31 6:30 p.m. USF Turchin Stadium
Sat., Apr 1 4 p.m. USF Turchin Stadium
Sun., Apr 2 1 p.m. USF Turchin Stadium
Tue., Apr 4 6:30 p.m. @ UNO New Orleans, La.
Fri., Apr 7 5 p.m. @ Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio
Sat., Apr 8 3 p.m. @ Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio
Sun., Apr 9 12 p.m. @ Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio
Tue., Apr 11 6:30 p.m. Nicholls State Turchin Stadium
Thu., Apr 13 6:30 p.m. UConn Turchin Stadium
Fri., Apr 14 6:30 p.m. UConn Turchin Stadium
Sat., Apr 15 11 a.m. UConn Turchin Stadium
Tue., Apr 18 6 p.m. @ Louisiana-Lafayette Lafayette, La.
Wed., Apr 19 6:30 p.m. Southern Miss Turchin Stadium
Fri., Apr 21 6:30 p.m. @ Houston Houston, Texas
Sat., Apr 22 6:30 p.m. @ Houston Houston, Texas
Sun., Apr 23 1 p.m. @ Houston Houston, Texas

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Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he's not writing, he's avid about music, the outdoors and Saints, Ole Miss & Chelsea football. He lives in New Orleans with his wife, two girls and three Labradors. In addition reporting on New Orleans sports, he is looking forward to Biz’s assignment to cover the Mint 400, “The Great American Off-Road Race.”

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