Well, the fourth annual Alumni Game is over, and the Texas Tech baseball team can get back to business of getting ready for its Feb. 15 season opener against Northern Illinois.
Tech returned to the practice field on Sunday, and here are a few observations:
1. If there are two characteristics to new head coach Tim Tadlock that have come out in the early portion of his tenure, it's accountability and attention to detail. He has a keen eye and not many things, if any, get past him, and it could be something as small as the team not doing stretching exercises correctly.
But the attention to detail and harping on kids about it isn't done in a way to put pressure on them or make them think too much about what they're doing to the point it suppresses their natural ability to just go out and play the game.
2. There are no wasted moments during practice. Whether it's an outfielder, infielder, pitcher or catcher, players are always doing something, either a drill or hitting or fielding practice. Even in BP, the pitchers are standing behind outfielders as backups while the outfielders learn to read the ball off the bat. Also, drills are simple and quick, and often times Tadlock would stop the drill in the middle when he sees something he doesn't like, not necessarily to yell but to teach the players the finer points of what they are working on.
3. As far as the players go, some have definitely come in ready to go this season, and other -- veterans included -- are lagging behind.
-- A pair of Coronado players appear to be the frontrunners at their respective positions. Sophomore first baseman Blake Bass has been crushing the ball; two hits in the Alumni game, two more in Sunday's scrimmage. He drove in three runs on Sunday. Randolph had a two-run home run on Sunday, but his defense behind the plate is just a bit suspect. Newcomers Elliott Richoux and Jarrard Poteete could push Randolph because both can hit, but neither of them at this point are any better defensively than Randolph.
-- I like freshman outfielder Tyler Neslony in right field. I saw a bit of him during the fall and really liked his stroke from the left side, and he's continued that in the fall, getting a leadoff double in the third off Matt Withrow and scoring on Bass' double.
-- Sophomore second baseman Bryant Burleson has come back this spring and is hitting the ball very well. He had three hits in the Alumni game, and on Sunday had a double to left and scored on a double steal. With so few veterans on the team this year, having one step up and become a leader on the field immediately could prove huge for the Red Raiders in 2013.
-- Third base could be a position to watch. Right now, it appears Seward County transfer Jake Barrios has the upper hand, but he struggled with the glove both during drills and in the scrimmage. That could open the door for freshman Alec Humphreys, the son of former Tech all-American Mike Humphreys, to get some playing time at the corner.
-- Pitching, as to be expected, is a little up and down. Withrow, a highly touted recruit out of Midland, struggled in his three innings on Sunday, allowing a run on three hits and four walks, but he also had six strikeouts in his first two innings. Veteran Jerad McCrummen struggled in his three innings, giving up a two-run single to Bass and never looking comfortable. Neither did veteran left-hander Andre Wheeler, who worked three scoreless innings but allowed four walks while striking out three. Newcomer Heath Herrington, who closed for Cisco JC last year, gave up the home run to Randolph and double to Burleson in his first inning, struck out the side in order in the eighth and allowed a run on two hits and three walks in the ninth
-- Not all the pitching was a struggle, however. I was very impressed with freshman right-hander Matt Custred out of Keller after he retired all nine hitters he faced in order with five strikeouts, and the Tech offense never got a ball out of the infield against him. Late in the scrimmage, freshman right-hander Justin Bethard out of Frisco Centennial worked two good innings, overcoming an error at third, before imploding somewhat in the ninth, allowing two runs on three hits, a walk and an error.
Of course, the thing to remember is it was just the third day. They've got two weeks to get better and figure out who plays where, so third-day observations might not mean that much.
Right now, the biggest thing might just be to learn names with faces. If you can figure it out quicker than I can, let me know.
See ya at the yard, meat.