The Omaha baseball team is looking to reload this year after a disappointing 2015 campaign. The Mavericks went 21-31 (12-18 Summit League) last year, struggling to play well on the road.
Head Coach Bob Herold is entering his 17th season at the helm. The team’s next win will be Herold’s 500th as head coach. Herold said that despite the team’s struggles in 2015, the Mavericks will look to improve and compete for a Summit League title, as they did in 2013-14.
“I won’t dwell on last year; we’re looking forward to this year,” Herold said.
Pitching will be an area that Omaha will look to improve on from last year when the pitching staff’s overall ERA was 5.28. Senior Tyler Fox will look to lead the Mavericks in that category as their ace. In 2015, Fox went 5-4 as a starter, posting a 2.88 ERA and striking out 72 batters in 93.2 innings pitched. The Thornton, Colorado native said this year will be different after a successful offseason. “We’ve got great team chemistry going after a really competitive fall and winter,” Fox said.
The Omaha offense will be led by seniors outfielder Cole Gruber and infielder Clayton Taylor. The lead-off hitting Gruber led the team in batting average, hitting .399 and stolen bases as he swiped 22 last year.
Gruber is confident that after a down year in 2015, the team is ready to return to the Summit League Championship. “We’re ready to get back at it and show them who we really are,” Gruber said.
Taylor will look to keep a hot bat in 2016 after tallying a team-leading 8 home runs last year and knocking in 42 RBI. Playing in all 52 games last year, Taylor is looking to stay healthy in his fifth and final season and lead the team into postseason play. the Mavericks are eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time this year.
“We’re really coming together as a unit through this offseason,” Taylor said. “I think we’ve got a lot of guys who can play, so it’s going to be interesting to see the shuffle of guys who make an impact this year.”
The Mavericks open their season this weekend at the Perfect Game Spring Swing Tournament in Emerson, Georgia. The team will play eight games between Feb. 19 and Feb. 28. Their first matchup is against Eastern Michigan on Friday, Feb. 19 at 1 p.m.