After a season cut short due to COVID-19, Texas State baseball will start its 2021 season against the Brigham Young University Cougars in a four-game series.
Due to historic inclement weather across Texas, the Bobcats moved the start of their season one day forward as they will play the Cougars in a doubleheader on Feb. 20 and Feb. 22-23.
During the 2020 season, Texas State had its best start since 2011, going 14-4 on the year while sporting a seven-game win streak before the cancellation. Despite the 11-month hiatus, senior right-handed pitcher Zachary Leigh says the team is eager to carry the momentum of the previous year into this season.
“I think last season was a season we can build off of,” Leigh says. “Having that feeling of getting off to a hot start and having your season cut short, I know us and that locker room can’t wait to get back out on the field.”
Last season was also the Bobcats' first under Head Coach Steven Trout. Trout, affectionately dubbed as "Trouty" by his team, has been a member of the staff since the 2016-17 season before taking the reins in 2020.
Before the stoppage of play, Trout had the best start for a first-year head coach in school history, and his 14 wins were the most in the nation by a first-year head coach.
Junior infielder Wesley Faison says Trout has created a winning environment and enjoyable atmosphere for the team.
“I think the biggest thing with him is that he brings in a lot of energy and the culture he’s created is different from what we’ve had in the past,” Faison says. “I think we have a very good winning culture and tradition now; it’s fun to go on the field every day. I think we have one of the best coaching staffs in the nation.”
With the success of the previous year and the disappointment of the premature cancellation long gone, the Bobcats aim to put 2020 in their rearview mirror. Graduate catcher Bryce Bonner says the team is motivated to pick up where they left off.
“Just from playing with these guys, you can tell they have a chip on their shoulder,” Bonner says. “There’s definitely unfinished business, and I’m glad to be playing my part in handling that business.”
The Bobcats have a plethora of returning juniors and seniors, with a healthy dose of transfer athletes who will look to help the program in 2021. Leigh says the team is "tight-knit" and shares the same goal coming out of a season where it had the best overall record of Sun Belt teams: Win the Sun Belt Conference.
“We’re about 50-50 with [returning players] and new guys.” Leigh said, “Having a tight-knit group is the most important thing and these new guys are just as bought in like the rest of us. They fit right in, and we are all excited for this season.”
After playing their four-game series against BYU, the Bobcats will make a quick pit stop in Arlington, Texas, to play Sam Houston State University on Feb. 24. Then, they travel to Beaumont, Texas, to take on the Lamar University for a three-game series.
The Bobcats then play their next two games at home, one against the University of Texas at Austin, before they enter the 21st Annual Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic. The tournament will take place at Minute Maid Park in Houston during the first week of March.
Returning from the tournament, Texas State will play another five home games before heading to Little Rock, Arkansas, for its first conference matchup against the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
The Bobcats will go on a stretch from March 24 through May 4 where they play out-of-conference teams, such as Texas, Texas A&M University, Baylor University, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Washington. They will play six of those nine contests on the road, traveling to play Washington, A&M, Baylor, and UT throughout that timeframe.
Texas State will close out its 56-game season with a road trip to Conway, South Carolina, to play a three-game series against Coastal Carolina University from May 20-22. It will mark the Bobcats' final conference matchup before the scheduled Sun Belt Conference Tournament on May 25.
The team is hopeful to play out the entirety of the season and believes it is qualified to make a run for the super regionals.
“We’re capable of making a regionals run, super regionals run," Leigh says. "We’ve got the talent in this locker room. We’ve just got to stay focused and stack good days on top of good days.”