Head Baseball Coach Travis Janssen and the rest of the team believe this year expect to see a different ending for the 2016 season, although the team is currently adjusting to their new coach and searching for a pitching coach.
The team had a record of 25-26 last season and 15-15 in the Ohio Valley Conference without a bid to the OVC tournament. With returning players such as junior Alex Robles and senior Jared Carkuff, Janssen and Assistant Baseball Coach Derrick Dunbar both have full expectations of heading back to the tournament.
Janssen said coaching baseball at APSU is something he has been working for his entire college and coaching career.
Janssen said he wants to coach at a quality Division I school where baseball is successful. “It was a no brainer for me to be excited about coming here,” Janssen said. “I wanted to coach in a place where you can look recruits in the eyes and say championships are won here.”
Considering the recent success under former Head Coach Gary McClure, Janssen said he hopes it makes it easier to come into a program in the middle of what could be another successful run.
“I owe it to the seniors to dive right in,” Janssen said. “I’m going work as hard as I can to help us get into a situation where we can get back to the conference tournament.” Janssen expects to compete during the OVC this season.
He said he has every intention of preparing the Govs to make the tournament.
Off of the field expectations include getting degrees. “For the vast majority of them, that will be the most important thing to them,” said Janssen.
The team will represent themselves, the program and APSU with class and integrity, according to Janssen.
Janssen said he hopes the baseball team will be a positive for the APSU campus.
During the summer, Robles and Carkuff both received invitations to the Cape Cod Summer League in Cape Cod, Mass., which is one of the premier summer leagues and one many players aspire to be invited to attend.
They faced some of the best college baseball players in the country over the summer.
“It was awesome,” Robles said. “The crowd was into it and was really intense. I would compare it to when we pitched here against teams like Murray State, Morehead State or Tennessee Tech. I love pressure situations like that.”
In Robles’s sophomore year, he made history by being named First-Team All-OVC at two separate positions (pitcher and utility player), along with more accomplishments during his freshman and sophomore year.
“He’s a very talented player,” Dunbar said. “He wants to do everything in his man power to help our team win.”
Carkuff entered the 2015 MLB draft but was unsuccessful. “[Cape Cod] is an amazing place, and the baseball atmosphere is crazy,” Carkuff said. “You have the best competition you’ll ever meet until you reach the pros. It was the greatest experience of my life, and I’m guessing the reason I didn’t get drafted was because God wanted me to be there.”
With all of these combinations for the upcoming 2016 season, Janssen, Dunbar and the players have high hopes and expectations for making the OVC tournament and getting back to the tradition of a winning season.