By Brent Ingram, UTA Athletics Communications
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Colton Turner can hit.
A six-foot, 205-pound right-hander, Turner has established a reputation as a talented, veteran bat in the UTA lineup.
Turner, a product of Round Rock, Texas, has always been a hitter. He is always ready to anchor a lineup with his physical, patient approach at the plate.
"He's going to hit. He is always going to hit," Thomas said. "He is just one of those guys that has some skins on the wall. If we can keep him healthy all year, I'd like to see what he does. He's one of those guys that you like to see coming to the plate because he is very productive."
Turner joined the UTA program for the 2016 season after a hitting .376 with 23 doubles, nine homers and 59 RBI as a sophomore at Weatherford Community College. He benefited from the daily grind of junior college baseball in Texas.
"It really helped because you are pretty much playing all the time, from fall ball till June," Turner said about his development in junior college. "It gets your ready and gets your prepared for something like this. You are playing doubleheaders every day so you get to play a lot of baseball."
His tenure at Weatherford came after a redshirt season in 2013 with TCU.
"It was a great experience at TCU," Turner said. "It didn't work out the way I wanted too but it was still a good experience."
After joining the Mavs, Turner did what he does best, hit.
He finished the year playing in 44 games with 40 starts, hitting .277 (43-for-155) to earn second-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors.
"Last year he missed about 80 at-bats with a hamstring issue or his numbers would've been through the roof," Thomas said. "When he came back he was still hampered by it and he could still hit but he couldn’t more around really well."
Overall, Turner slugged 15 doubles, four homers and drove in 37 runs, sporting a .341 on-base percentage. In clutch situations he shined, collecting 16 two-out hits and 12 two-out RBI.
UTA's cleanup hitter 28 times in 2016, Turner made 19 starts at first base and 21 as the DH and reached base safely in 30 of 40 starts.
A year of experience in the conference has Turner prepared for the challenge of his senior season.
"It is a lot better now after getting that experience," Turner said. "I am a pretty confident person but there is still a comfort level this year. I know what to expect now. I know what the schedule is like."
Now as a seasoned player who has battled the adversity of an in-season injury and the highs and lows of big-time college baseball, Turner the leader – and hitter – is vital to the success of the team.
"It is very important to have leadership," Turner said. "There are guys like Brady, who is a little more vocal than some of us, then there are guys that like to lead by example. Which is just as important to show the younger guys how it is supposed to be done. Especially during practices. Little things like picking up after yourself. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores and it is important for them to see how it is done."
Apart of a six-man senior class, Turner is eager to produce on the field and in the clubhouse.
"I'd say we have a pretty good attitude going right now," Turner said. "We've got a lot of guys returning. We have a lot of new guys that can produce for us. We have depth on the mound. Right now, things are looking good. Just looking forward to getting the season started."