Feb. 7, 2014
By Taylor Wright | UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas - UT Arlington baseball enters its first season in the Sun Belt Conference behind a group of solid and versatile outfielders.
The Mavericks will look to returners Justin Copeland, Derek Miller, Matt Shortall, John Michael Twichell and Brandon Vinyard for leadership in the outfield. They will be joined by newcomers Drew Dowdy and Luke Jones, as UTA aims for its third championship in as many years.
Miller, a junior from Round Rock, started 47 games for the Mavs last season and will take over at center field this year. His .417 on-base percentage led the team and was ninth in the Western Athletic Conference in 2013.
"Miller has moved to center and has taken on that role really well," UT Arlington coach Darin Thomas said.
Copeland, a senior from Lindale, started 47 games in right field in 2013. He recorded a 12-game hitting streak last season from March 15-April 5 and is looking for a repeat performance this year.
"Copeland is back starting at right field and he really had a great fall," Thomas said.
Shortall, a senior from Dallas, earned first-team All-WAC honors last season, as well as being named a Louisville Slugger third-team All-American. Twichell, a senior from Dallas, started 45 games last season at first base. Vinyard joins Shortall and Twichell as a solid, experienced offensive option to complete the outfield.
"We have a whole group of guys that can play left field for us," Thomas said. "Shortall, even though he was our designated hitter last year, has really done a great job. Vinyard and Twichell are two senior left-handed batters. Dowdy battled injuries in the fall, but he's also in the mix there."
The outfielders and the rest of the Mavericks open their 2014 slate by hosting the UTA Invitational at Clay Gould Ballpark on Feb. 14. UTA will face Stephen F. Austin, Incarnate Word and Oklahoma State during the weekend tournament.