Ever since the Omaha baseball program parted ways with former long-time head coach Bob Herold before the 2017 season, it has been a bit of a struggle for new coach and Omaha alumnus Evan Porter to pick up the reins – but Porter has experience with UNO that dates to before his time as a coach.
Porter played for the Mavericks from 2006-2009 and bounced around professional baseball for a few years before jumping into coaching.
Not only is Porter an alumnus, but he was also born and raised in the city. He attended Millard North High School prior to becoming a Maverick. Porter is Omaha, through and through.
The UNO baseball program is no stranger to winning. Coach Porter was an All-American and played in the Division II College World Series while his teams won a conference title and advanced to four straight regionals.
Before taking over for Herold, Porter was an assistant on staff for four years. In the two years that he has been head coach, the Mavericks have only accumulated 12 and 15 wins each season, respectively.
The Mavericks return seven starters from last season’s team, as well as closer Cal Hehnke. Spencer Koelewyn is the only returning weekend starter.
Thomas DeBonville and Braden Rogers are the two big names to watch in the Omaha lineup. DeBonville led the Mavericks in stolen bases, RBIs and home runs in 2018. Rogers was the leader in batting average and on-base percentage.
The Mavericks will start the season with a road trip to California to take on the USC Trojans during the first weekend of the season. Other non-conference tilts include Kansas, Wichita State, 2018 super regional participant and Big Ten champion Minnesota, Nebraska and at three-game series with Creighton.
Summit League play features a home-and-home weekend series with the other five teams of the conference: South Dakota State, North Dakota State, Purdue-Fort Wayne, Western Illinois, and four-time defending champions Oral Roberts. In 2018, the Mavericks went 10-17 in Summit play – good for fifth in the conference, but not good enough to qualify for the conference tournament.
UNO seems to still be finding their footing at the Division I level. With only two winning seasons in six total, it’s safe to say that Omaha’s work is cut out for them. Areas of improvement include their team batting average of .238 last year and a team ERA of 5.41.
But the context is encouraging. That 5.41 ERA is well over a run lower than the 6.96 ERA posted in Porter’s first season. Additionally, in 2018 the Mavs let their opponents’ bat .272 against them, compared to the .317 in 2017. Those numbers would seem to indicate that Porter has this program going in the right direction.
The Mavericks will play their entire first month on the road before facing off against North Dakota State on March 15 at Seymour Smith Park. The season begins against USC on Feb. 15.