The countdown is on – 3 weeks from tomorrow until WKU gets it’s 2014 baseball season underway!
Last week we took you around the diamond and gave you a look at the infield for the upcoming season. Today, we head to the outfield to check in on how the last line of defense will look this season for the Tops.
Key Players Lost:
The outfield is the position which saw the least amount of turnover from last season to this one. As it stands, the loss that will have the most impact will be that of Adam Lavelle, who hit .222 in 45 games (27 of which he started), going yard once and driving in 12 men. In the field last year, Lavelle finished the year with a .996 fielding percentage, committing only 1 error and put out 28 men.
An odd loss to the outfield is that of junior Matthew Paculan. I say odd because, due to his youth, he didn’t get too much playing time, but was relatively effective in his time in the box and on the field; Paculan also hit .222, but did it in 19 games (he started 5) in 2013, hitting 2 dingers and driving 4 men in. His time while in the outfield was well spent, as he was one of 7 Toppers last year to record a perfect fielding percentage, along with recording 11 putouts. It seems with his progression, this year could have been a breakout year for him, but decided to leave the Hill following last season. (Whatever he is up to, we wish him the best of luck, and when we find out where he is and what he’s up to, we will send some sort of update.)
Key Players Returning:
Regan Flaherty is returning to the Hill, and is a majority of the power that comes out of the outfield. Last season, Flaherty posted a .288 average, hitting 2 home runs but drove in 36 men, and totaled 19 extra base hits. In the field, Flaherty was a busy guy, and made the most of it. He recorded 130 put outs, only made 2 errors, and finished with a fielding percentage of .985 (third best of the non-perfect fielders). Flaherty was one of two Tops, along with Scott Wilcox, to start all 57 games that WKU played in last year.
Just like the loss of Matthew Paculan is an odd one to refer to as “key,” the return of Anderson Miller falls under the same category. In 2013, Miller played in 20 games (starting 18 of them) and hit .221, driving in 10 men and hitting 4 extra base hits (3 doubles and a triple). Miller was also one of the 7 Toppers to record a perfect fielding percentage, and was responsible for 34 put outs. If Miller gets some more opportunities to play, and makes the most of his AB’s, he could become a key contributor to the offense, and is already a great asset to have defensively.
Who Else Is Back?
Once again, not much. Justin Hageman returns for his senior season, but he will spend most of his time either on the mound or as a DH, and we will talk about him more next week. Also coming back is Trevor Lowe, who hit .231 in 46 games, driving in 19 and going yard twice.
The 2014 baseball Tops will see 4 members of it’s incoming signing class play the outfield – Philip Diedrick, a 6’1, 210 lb. Canadian (from Ajax, Ontario) who comes to the Hill via Connors State Community College. Diedrick will have a small instant connection with the team, as he and Scott Wilcox have been teammates before. Paul Murray is listed as an infielder and outfielder, but with the infield so deep already, I’ll be looking for him to play outfield. Murray is a native of San Burno, CA and is a 5’11, 180 lb. freshman. The final two newcomers are from the Bluegrass – 6’5, 215 lb. Harrison Scanlon comes from Louisville (via DuPont Manual High School), and Bowling Green’s own Ben Morrison, who will look to make the local Purple people proud.
The outfield appears to be in good shape, both offensively and defensively. The potential in Anderson Miller excites me, as does the possibility of a break out offensive year for Flaherty. The new group of guys also have me excited…so I guess you could say the theme for this group (as well as the infield and entire season), is excitement. I just can’t wait for the season to start.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming season? On the infield? Outfield? Who will you miss? Who are you looking forward to seeing? Be sure to check back here next Thursday as we will preview the pitching staff.
Stand up and cheers.
Topics: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers