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
Sons: Tanner and Tommy
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
|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|