Jan. 18, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas - The UT Arlington baseball team was presented with its 2013 Western Athletic Conference regular-season championship rings Friday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington at the annual First Pitch Fundraiser.
Major League Baseball Hall-of-Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan was the keynote speaker of the event. He discussed a few memories as both a coach at neighboring TCU and playing for the Angels, Astros and Rangers.
"I'm proud of the job UTA baseball has done over the years," Ryan said. "TCU played UTA while I was a coach there and the growth UTA has had in the college ranks as well as in MLB with players being drafted is impressive."
Athletics Director Jim Baker discussed UT Arlington's upcoming rennovations to Clay Gould Ballpark. The Mavericks plan to build state-of-the-art clubhouses for both baseball and softball in the very near future.
"Like Mr. Ryan said, our program has made some amazing strides in recent years," Baker said. "There is no reason we cannot continue to compete at the highest level."
The evening concluded with the presentation of the 2013 WAC regular-season championship rings by UT Arlington coach Darin Thomas. The Mavericks enter the 2014 season as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, their third league in as many years.
"Three rings back-to-back-to-back in three different conferences would be quite an accomplishment," Thomas said. "The Sun Belt will be a step up with a lot of tough competition. I think hands down this will be the toughest schedule we've had in my 14 years here."
Thomas also honored Brad Vachon as UTA's 2013 Pitcher of the Year and Matt Shortall as the 2013 Hitter of the Year. Both will be returning to the 2014 roster for competition beginning Feb. 14 at Clay Gould Ballpark against Stephen F. Austin. The Mavericks also return to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to battle Texas A&M on March 4.
"Vachon was our guy all year long and he definitely earned our Pitcher of the Year award," Thomas said. "Shortall, our Hitter of the Year last year, was also our team triple crown winner. He's a great competitor and I think he'll have an even better season this year."
For the complete UTA baseball schedule, please click here.