The Motlow Bucks will opened the 2023 baseball season over the weekend when they traveled to Hanceville, AL, to play Wallace State in a doubleheader.
Head Coach Dan McShea enters his 18th season at the helm of the program. His Bucks have had six consecutive winning seasons, including last year’s 31-22 record.
“We lost the majority of our starting lineup from last year,” said McShea. “However, we do return four players that were among our team leaders in batting average.”
His 2023 roster features players from eight different states, including 15 from Tennessee. There are 17 sophomores, nine redshirt freshmen, and seven true freshmen.
“Jackson Cauthron had a strong freshman campaign, and we will rely on him to handle the bulk of the duties at catcher,” added McShea. “Josh Zambito and newcomer Dalton Roby will also see time behind the plate.
“Sophomore transfer first baseman Tate Vanhooser had a great fall and will play a big role for us. He can also play outfield. Freshman Kaleb Gupton adds a big bat to the lineup and could put up big numbers. We have a lot of versatility in the infield, with returners Gabe Sibert and JB Bell having seen a lot of time last year. Sibert is a two-year starter and is a staple both in the field and at the plate.
“ETSU transfer Irvin Hernandez has battled through injury and is a solid defender and switch hitter,” continued McShea. “Returners Ryder Morey, Colin Mountjoy, Alex Killian, Tucker Allen, and Riley Stanton are all in the mix for infield playing time. We have a lot of options in the infield that will compete for playing time.
“Our outfield has a lot to offer offensively with transfers Julius Scearce and Grant Godwin having a solid fall along with returner Kaleb Valdez. Braden McFarlin and John Hale add defense and good speed to the outfield.
“We have several guys in the mix at designated hitter. Jack Fortner had a solid fall at the plate and Reagan Tomlin brings a lot of power from the left side. Along with the power bat of Gupton, Jonathan Webster, Fortner, and Tomlin will all compete for at-bats.
“There are opportunities for a lot of guys to get time on the mound,” McShea added. “Nick Holbrook and Caden Alvey will begin the season as starting pitchers. Jake Gulley, Aaron Osada, and Fortner are also in the mix to be weekend starters. Holbrook had a great year last season and has gotten better. Alvey is a powerful lefthander, and both Gulley and Osada had significant innings for us as freshmen and should play a bigger role this year.
“Griffin Meeker looks to be one of our top relievers to start the season along with Chase Ghormley and Evan Rom. We also have two-way players like Morey, Tomlin, and Allen who will add depth to our pitching staff.”
The Bucks are scheduled to play their first 10 games on the road, including trips to Dayton, TN, to face Bryan College JV, three games in Millington Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10 and 11, and a three-game series against Northwest Florida State in Niceville, FL, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 17 and 18.
The first home game is a doubleheader against Henry Ford College on Saturday, Feb. 25, beginning at noon at the Driver Baseball Complex.
Follow the Bucks all season at MotlowSports.com and @motlowsports.