By JJ Neikro
The baseball team jumped out to a hot 8-2 start this year with some help from new faces.
The Mocs took in seven transfer players this year that have made a huge impact in the lineup and on the mound. The Mocs batting order now features two junior transfers in the number one and two spots in the order with center fielder Cody Burgess and shortstop Omar Villaman taking those respective spots.
Junior transfer Austin Mauer does the catching for the Mocs and is third on the team with a .341 average and 15 hits. Senior transfer Alex Jones handles infield duties for the Mocs as a utility player at shortstop and second.
Villaman currently leads the team in batting average (.417) and is second on the team with a .462 on base percentage. Burgess has been a juggernaut for the Mocs offensive attack leading the team in hits with 22, slugging percentage at .704, stolen bases with five, on base percentage with a .500 clip and is tied for the team lead in home runs with five.
Burgess is a transfer from Polk State where he led the league in stolen bases last year and has transformed into one of the Mocs leading offensive weapons. The Mocs coaching staff brought in a new hitting coach this year from Rollins, Steven Crabtree, who Burgess says has really helped him at the plate.
“It’s really a different atmosphere than Polk State. The new coaches have brought in a good work ethic and help every player whenever they need something,” Burgess said.
The Mocs were swept by Lynn February 24-25 dropping their record to 8-5, but Burgess is confident the team will get back on track for upcoming conference games against Florida Tech and Eckerd.
“Even though we’re struggling with performance on the field right now, I know we’re going to get this season going in the right direction after Lynn,” Burgess said.
While Burgess and Villaman are in the field, the Mocs have solid depth in front of them as the bullpen and starting rotation is now bolstered by transfers Jake Walsh, J.T. Hintzen and Alex Kennell. Hintzen and Kennell are reliable bullpen specialists while Walsh, second-year transfer Logan Browning, and four-year senior A.J. Smith handle the starting roles.
Walsh is second in the starting rotation and leads the team with 24.2 innings pitched, a 2.55 earned run average and 23 strikeouts. Walsh is a transfer from Eastern Florida State College where he was 5-3 in 11 starts with a 3.36 earned run average as a sophomore.
“I’ve enjoyed every bit so far and I’m looking forward to a successful semester in the classroom and the opportunity to represent FSC in a national tournament this year,” Walsh said.
The transfer process is sometimes a difficult one, especially for student athletes who must acclimate to a new environment and team but Walsh and the other players have really taken a liking to FSC’s environment.
“The coaches made it easy to get acclimated to a new school and the team is like my family away from home,” Walsh said.
Come see these new Mocs on March 3 as the Mocs take on Minnesota State Mankato at 6 p.m. and March 5 as the Mocs face West Virginia Wesleyan at 1 p.m.