season outlook

The 2008 season begins with great expectations as Union University head coach Brent Fronabarger enters his third season with the Bulldogs. Union has just 10 returning players, nine of which are seniors. Fourteen players on the Union squad are newcomers to the Bulldog baseball program, but will have opportunities to contribute early to the success of this team.

Union currently has a streak of 28 straight seasons with a winning baseball record. After a season slowed by injuries last year, Union hopes to improved on the 33 wins of a year ago and return to the region tournament for the second time in three years.

The senior class for Union has plenty of experience and each of the nine players will have a key roll on this season’s squad. Three of the seniors are in their fourth year with the Union program. Humboldt natives Judson Powers and James Brasfield have been staples on the team over their careers. Powers has been the offensive leader on the team with his bat. He has also proven to be a valuable lefty on the mound over the past few years. He has been named to the TranSouth All-Conference team in each season, including a TranSouth Gold Glove Award, All-Region, and All-American. Brasfield has also played an important role on the Union team throughout his career. He has started at five different positions in his career, including his transition from the infield to one of the team’s most dependable pitchers. Ben Ayris has also been a starter pitcher for Union for four seasons. He has improved over his career to give Union a valuable starter, and this season, adds to what looks to be a deep pitching staff.

Of the six remaining seniors, each are in their second season with Union. Cody Willoughby returns as a starting outfielder for Union. Shaun Cozart is back after starting all 51 games last season and tying a school record with 400 putouts at first base. He was named All-Conference and also received a conference Gold Glove Award. Bryan Wagner returns after placing second on the team with 10 starts on the mound last season. Joe Robinson spent last season as the starting left fielder, but will go into the season this year as the leading candidate for the designated hitter spot. Josh Holman led the team last year with 20 appearances and tied for a team-high six wins on the mound. He will add a quality left-handed arm to the improved pitching staff of 2008. Greg Abram returns after taking over the ace roll of last season’s pitching staff. He finished with six wins and led the team with 13 starts and 84.0 innings pitched. Abram was named All-Conference as a junior.

The junior class is made up of four players, one of which has been with Union all three seasons. Covington native Allen Williams returns after splitting time last season with Lowery at catcher. When not catching, Williams has started in the outfield and has also been the designated hitter. Williams was an All-Conference player as a freshman. Three transfers complete the junior class for Union. Joe Gahan will add a quality left-handed bat with experience that will help this team. Carl Harken will start the season as one of Union’s three conference starters. Danny Alberty proved his value in the fall with his hard work and fearless attitude that will make him Union’s main reliever on the weekends.

Union boasts three sophomores on this year’s squad, all of which are newcomers to the program. Andrew Hansen will start the season as Union’s second baseman, but will also be the table setter in the second spot in the lineup. Ramon Gutierrez will add depth to an already solid middle infield. Grant Luke will get the nod in right field to start the season.

With the second biggest class on the team, the seven freshman for Union produce a positive outlook for not only this season, but for the next four years. Colby Starks will get time behind the plate this year as he grows into the college game. Kevin Kirksey will pitch and hit for Union. He has a good arm out of the bullpen and will get RBI opportunities late in games. Yogi Vanaman will start the season as Union’s man up the middle in the shortstop position, but will also be a major run producer in the number five spot in the lineup. Lee Kimbell turned heads in the fall with his play and understanding of the game. He will help Union offensively and defensively as he continues to improve. Matt Carter will be the third conference starter for Union with Abram and Harken. He has great stuff and will complete a very deep weekend rotation for Union, as a freshman and throughout his career. Caleb Hollingsworth will provide a quality arm and depth to the weekday rotation. Ross Garrett also will continue to help Union’s rotation as he improves with each appearance.

This squad has several new faces, but with six of nine starters returning from last season, experience will help mesh this team into a TranSouth Conference contender.


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