TEXAS A&M KINGSVILLE JAVELINAS (42-17)
The Javelinas set and eclipsed a number of goals last spring. They boasted multiple wins over top ten teams, spent the bulk of the season in the top 30, won a fifth LSC title and topped the school record with 42 wins. For this year’s team, the final goal will be Cary or bust. Few new accomplishments are left to be felled for TAMKU and Head Coach Jason Gonzales returns a rock solid roster with six established starters and all but a pair of pitchers who played in last year’s regional championship game.
The biggest weapon back on campus unquestionably is Taylor Taska who was a finalist for the inaugural Josh Willingham Award for Most Valuable Player. Not only did Taska perform at the plate where he hit .341 with a .558 slugging percentage and 126 total bases, he also was an invaluable member of the pitching staff, going 9-3 with a 3.32 ERA in fifteen appearances. He justifiably was the LSC and South Central Player of the Year and a First Team All American. In the rotation he will be rejoined by the LSC Pitcher of the Year, Dallas Ponder. Ponder exploded on the scene last spring, earning a team leading 10 wins with a 3.46 ERA while tossing 88.1 innings with 88 strikeouts. The Javelinas also have another pair of pitchers who made at least seven starts last season to give them a rounded out, experienced staff. Matt Rhodes led the starters with a 3.13 ERA and was 8-3 with three complete games. Cody Williams had a 3.39 ERA and struck out 66 batters in 74.1 innings with only 15 walks. The team will need a new closer with the departure of Jeremy Flores who saved 14 games last season, but there are some good candidates available, including Denver Diefenbach who coaches state is poised to have a breakout season and was a LSC Honorable Mention as a reliever in 2012.
James Black and Matt Perez will man the left-side of the infield and once again be crucial to A&M’s success on offense. Black hit .310 last season and his five home runs and 41 RBI were both second on the team. Perez hit .307, but also walked a team leading 45 times to bump his on base percentage to a thick .459. Senior catcher Ryan Guedry helped lead his JUCO team to a national championship as a freshman and hopes are that he can be behind the plate when his teammates earn a DII title this season. Last year Guedry hit .328 in 122 at bats. Derrick Walls, a former Second Team LSC performer at Incarnate Word, transferred to TAMKU and will be looking to end his college career on a high note. Last season Walls was one of the top producers for IWC, batting .361 with 34 stolen bases and could be a monstrumental momentum maker for the Javelinas.