ACU is looking forward to their first year of eligibility in the Southland Conference as a D-I school when it opens its season next weekend.
They do so with a strong core of young players, transfers and their one all-Southland selection, but were selected to be tied for 12th in the conference. Last year the Wildcats finished 13-43 with an abysmal 3-27 record for conference. Sam Houston was picked to win for the second year in a row.
Senior catcher Luis Trevino was named pre-season Southland second-team catcher for the 2018 season. Luis was a star for the Wildcats last year, hitting for a .366 average with a team-leading 82 hits and 43 RBI’s.
The Wildcats lose its number two hitter in Russell Crippen, but brought back two important starters in junior pitcher Derek Scott and junior first basemen Koby Claborn. All in all, the wildcats return 11 players this year, while losing key players Anthony Dominguez and Mark Pearson.
Another new addition to the Wildcats is their pitching coach Cory Vanderhook from Cal-State Fullerton, where he was the Director of Operations. He looks to improve the pitching staff that posted a 7.05 team ERA last season.
“I know Coach Evans has spent the better part of the last year on the road recruiting and I like what I see on paper,” Vanderhook said last year. “With the 2018 season being our first season fully eligible for tournament play, I want to be part of something special and help build it from the ground up.”
The new pitchers are also embracing the coach, who was a part of the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles organizations. Garrett Hutson, a pitching transfer from Crowley College in Kansas, says he trusts Vanderhook to lead the staff to a better season.
“Obviously our first goal is to have a winning season, and Vanderhook is a great guy to help us achieve that,” Hutson said. “But we also have other goals, like getting a spot in the Southland tourney and possibly a regional spot.”
Only time will tell how the Wildcats perform this season, but they’re poised to do much better than last season already. The season starts Friday, February 16 at Crutcher Scott Field against Quinnipiac at 4 p.m.