Long time UTSA assistant coach Jason Marshall will make his head coaching debut Friday at 6 pm as the Roadrunners host a four game set with Air Force at the Birdbath.
UTSA is coming off a disappointing 2012 season that saw them post just a 22-32 record. But more than just the start of another regular season, Friday's game is more of an introduction to a new era of baseball at UTSA as coach Marshall looks to put his stamp on the program.
"You don't coach 17 years of college baseball as an assistant coach and not be excited about the opportunity to be a head coach finally," said Marshall. "We've had a lot of good days in this program. I want to bring those good days back."
Marshall was a part of Corbett's staff and has been there through the rough times and good times when UTSA was winning three champions from 2005 to 2008.
"We endured some of the struggles we had early on in coach Corbett's tenure. It took is a couple of years of recruiting and a lot of hard work to really sale this program beyond the walls of San Antonio," said Marshall. "It's really a re-focusing of what's important in the program, what kind of style of play we're going to have, those discipline aspects that you really feel like can propel the program forward."
The challenge for UTSA Baseball is to remain competitive in the short term while still trying to build a long term foundation for success.
"Everybody in the city and region knows that UTSA is a diamond in the rough," said Marshall. "I think we're slowly putting the pieces of the puzzle together."
UTSA was picked to finish eight out of 10 by conference coaches this spring. They will face very stiff competition in their one and only season in the Western Athletic Conference. Dallas Baptist is the preseason favorite coming off two straight NCAA Tournament berths, while Texas State and New Mexico State also field very stout squads. The competition further improves next season when UTSA joins Conference USA.
"It's a time for change with these new leagues we are facing, some new competition," said Marshall. "Obviously we are going to have to up the ante on our care and concern of the program overall. Getting most out of the talent we have and starting to work hard on the recruiting trail."
For this 2013 expect the ‘Runners to be a strong offensive team. Historically UTSA has been able to put up big numbers with their bats.
"We had a good year offensively last year. That has always been a staple in this program," said Marshall. "Our ability to run the bases and be aggressive and have a style of play that is memorable to our opponents and how we're pressing the tempo and the issue in the game is definitely important."
UTSA has a relatively young group of pitchers but Marshall is expecting them to come together in order for UTSA to become successful.
"Our success and failure is always going to be dictated from the mound and how we control the game," said Marshall. "We'll definitely be expecting a lot out of the guys we do have."
The ‘Runners have a gem in closer Matt Sims.
"He (Sims) was very efficient once he was in there," said Marshall. "We just have to give him the ball more often with that opportunity. He has the arsenal to get it done at the back end of the game."
San Antonio's Michael Kraft, who has a upper 80's fast ball with a solid change up, is set to get the ball on opening night of the ‘Runners.
"He's (Kraft) a hard worker. He's a guy our pitching staff looks to for a leader amongst our pitchers," said Marshall. "You always get the same guy showing up each night when he rolls out there."
More than just pitching, UTSA has to do a better job defensively as a team in order to be successful.
"We've got to throw more strikes and they have to be well located strikes," said Marshall. "We've got to defend the running game better. If you look at our stats last year we really struggled in defending the running game."
The WAC Tournament is May 22-26 at QuikTrip Park in Grand Prairie. Only the top eight teams will advance to the tournament and Marshall wants UTSA to be there.
"Your expectations are always to win, to win a championship, to make tournaments at the end of the season, compete in post season play. And that will be our goal, just to show continual improvement. That will be the barometer for this season," said Marshall.
Marshall played professionally in the Kansas City Royals organization as a utility player. In fact Marshall played 8 positions. He hopes to take that experience and love of the game to build the UTSA Baseball program into a winner again.
"We want people to buy a ticket and come watch us play and know who we are by our energy and our enthusiasm for the game. The concern for winning from the first pitch to the last. That falls on the shoulders of head coach," said Marshall.Here is the link for a the full UTSA Schedule
C - John Bormann
1B - Mike Warren
2B - Jesse Baker
3B - Horacio Correa III
SS - RJ Perucki
LF - Riley Good
CF - Daniel Rockett
RF - John Welborn
DH - Tony Ramirez
Others expected to contribute in the field: Justin Anderson (OF), Jake Wood (1B/DH)
1. Michael Kraft
2. Brock Hartson
3. Either Jordan Pacheco or Clint Sharp
- Anderson and Nolan Trabanino also have ability to start
Closer - Matt Sims
Top relievers - Matt Walker, Logan Onda
2013 Western Athletic Conference Coaches Poll
(first-place votes in parenthesis)
1. Dallas Baptist (8), 80
2. Texas State (1), 65
3. New Mexico State, 60
4. Sacramento State (1), 54
5. CSU Bakersfield, 47
6. UT Arlington, 45
7. Louisiana Tech, 41
8. UTSA, 24
9. San Jose State, 23
10. Seattle, 11