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Danny Slinkman drove in a team-high 28 runs last season.
Danny Slinkman drove in a team-high 28 runs last season.

Oct. 29, 2007

ARLINGTON, Texas - With a 35-player roster that includes 21 newcomers, UTA baseball coaches have been anxious to put players on the field and see what they could do - not to mention their desire to put an injury-filled 2007 behind them.

Fall practice ended last week, and Associate Head Coach Darrin Thomas says there is plenty for Mavericks fans to be excited about in 2008.

First of all, every player who was supposed to pitch did so. And every player who was supposed to play in the field was out there as well. No major injuries. It all ended with a four-game, Blue-Gray World Series at Clay Gould Ballpark. Thomas and assistant coach Jay Sirianni coached the split-squad game billed as the Blue-Gray World Series.

"We were able to accomplish a lot, and it was especially nice to get out there and put last year behind us," Thomas said. "We were very encouraged by the five freshmen we brought in for this season. The transfers have played well, but every single one of the freshmen have adjusted well and made it clear that they can have an impact on our team this season."

UTA returns infielder Danny Slinkman, who hit .333 last season and tied for the team lead with 28 runs batted in. His .486 slugging percentage was also a team high.

Five freshmen expect to challenge for immediate playing time. They are outfielder Michael Choice (Mansfield Timberview HS), infielder Jordan Vaughn (Colorado Springs Rampart HS), infielder/right-handed pitcher Marcus Limon (Lubbock Estacado HS) and left-handed pitchers Adam Boydston (Lake Dallas HS) and Mark Picca (Fort Worth Nolan Catholic HS).



With the fall scrimmage season finished, the Mavericks will continue with offseason workouts until spring practice begins.

The Mavericks started last season's fall session with nearly a third of its roster unable to practice because of injuries. The program never recovered and finished a disappointing 13-40 overall. This year, quality depth from a talented group of transfers and highly-recruited freshmen have given the Mavericks reason for optimism. Couple that with a healthy fall workout, and UTA is looking forward to taking the field in less than four months.

"We certainly accomplished what we wanted to accomplish this fall," Thomas said. "It's so much different this year because we've been healthy. One thing we can already tell about this team is that we will be able to play some defense, and our young guys should be able to provide the kind of depth we simply didn't have last year because so many guys were hurt."

Fans will notice a difference this year because the ballpark lights will be turned on a little later across the country, thanks to an NCAA rule change that pushes back the start of 2008. The Mavericks will open the season Feb. 22 at home against Arkansas-Little Rock at 3 p.m. and play four consecutive games at home before hitting the road for a double-header against Louisiana Tech.


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