Changes afoot in Lion outfield
HAMMOND, La. – One of the underlying storylines of Southeastern Louisiana’s 2018 baseball season will be the changing of the guard in the outfield for head coach Matt Riser’s ballclub.
“This is another big area we’re replacing guys,” Riser said. “Gone are Webb Bobo, Ryan Byers and Jacob Seward, one of the best to ever roam center field in a Lion uniform. That’s not easy to do. We’ve been very fortunate to have elite defenders out there in all three positions. It has been a premium for us the last three years, but now we have some new faces out there.”
Despite the ever-changing nature of college baseball, Lion fans will have a couple familiar names to start the season.
“Drew Avans is a veteran coming back in left field,” Riser said. “You’ll see him play some center as well. He does a good job of getting some jumps and, now that Seward is gone, it gives him an opportunity to win the position.”
Longevity, however, does not mean Avans has locked in a set position.
“It’s still a battle out there in center between Avans and a junior college guy we signed out of Washington, Bryce Steckler,” Riser said. “He was an All-Conference player as a freshman in the NWAC [Northwest Athletic Conference]. He’s very similar to Carson Crites in that he brings that kind of power at the plate. Steckler has maybe a little more speed on the bases, but is extremely athletic and a very good defender out there as well. He and Avans will probably rotate back-and-forth between center and left field.”
A couple of newcomers are battling it out for the job in right field.
“In right we have two junior college guys vying for the position, Nathan Pilutti and Mike Taylor,” Riser said. “Pilutti is just a grinder, a guy who has always just found a way to have success. He may not be the most conventional hitter, but he is the epitome of what we talk about from a mentality standpoint in that he just wills his way through some things. He’s a decent defender in right as well.”
Pilutti, a product of Destrehan High School, follows former teammates Kade Granier and Brennan Breaud to Hammond.
“Mike Taylor is probably the X-factor in all of this,” Riser said. “He’s been extremely good at the plate for us and has a chance to be that middle-of-the-order bat to go along with a little bit of speed. If he can continue to improve defensively, he has a chance to be a mainstay.”
Southeastern’s outfield is just as deep and talented as the Lion infield. Joining slugger Nate Hunter and freshman Nick Ray in adding depth is a former Lion football player.
“The one we don’t get much of chance to talk about, but is going to be a premium piece for us, is Trenon Trosclair,” Riser said. “He brings so much experience to the table, being able to play the corners late defensively. He’ll have a very similar role to what he did last year. When guys need a break, or we run Drew on the mound, he’ll go out there for a start. He’s so good at moving the bat around at the dish, being able to bunt, hit and run, and those kind of things.”
A multi-talented athlete, Troslcair was a defensive back on Southeastern’s 2013 Southland Conference championship squad.
Pushing everyone for playing time is the reigning Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year.
“We have one more piece out there in Trey Shaffer,” Riser said. “He’s going to be a premium athlete for us. We’ll probably use him more on the mound than in the field this year, but he has a bright future with the balance of athleticism and bat speed at the dish. Shaffer has a chance to fit the mold of what we like offensively from the power and strength standpoint, as well as with speed since he’s a 6.4 or 6.5 runner.”
Southeastern’s 2018 regular-season schedule begins Friday with a 6 p.m. game against SIU-Edwardsville, kicking off a nine-game homestand at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field that includes games with No. 18-ranked UL Lafayette, UConn and LSU.
Single game tickets can be purchased online at www.LionSports.net/Tickets. All home games are available except the matchup with No. 9-ranked LSU. Tickets to that game will only be available for purchase by Diamond Club members and current baseball season ticket holders until Feb. 21.
Fans interested in joining the Diamond Club can do so by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at (985) 549-5091.
Season tickets, available for as little as $ $103 at baseball, remain on sale until Thursday at 5 p.m. For more information on purchasing Southeastern season or single-game tickets, contact the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466.
Fans are encouraged to follow @Lions_Baseball on Twitter, @SLU_LionsBaseball on Instagram, like /SLUathletics on Facebook and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel to keep up with the latest on Southeastern baseball.
# Name B/T HT WT YR EXP Hometown Previous School
4 Drew Avans (LHP) L/L 5-10 198 SR 3L Alabaster, Ala. Thompson HS
9 Nate Hunter L/L 6-0 205 SR 1L Clive, Iowa Metropolitan CC-Longview
2 Nathan Pilutti R/R 5-9 191 JR TR Destrehan, La. Mississippi Delta CC
42 Nick Ray R/R 6-2 200 FR HS Jefferson, La. Jesuit HS
38 Trey Shaffer (LHP) L/L 6-1 180 FR HS Biloxi, Miss. Biloxi HS
8 Bryce Steckler R/R 6-0 193 JR TR Redmond, Wash. Everett CC
36 Mike Taylor R/R 6-3 190 JR TR Tampa, Fla. Bishop State CC
35 Trenon Trosclair R/R 6-1 200 R-SR 1L Eunice, La. LSU Eunice
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