Clarksville, TN – An old saying in college sports is ‘a good thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores’ and the 2015 Austin Peay State University baseball team is living up to that adage.
After a three-year run that saw two regular-season Ohio Valley Conference titles, three OVC tournament championships, three trips to the NCAA Tournament and an average of 40 wins per season, the Govs missed the post season in 2014 with a squad that featured 13 freshmen on its 33-man roster.
That number of freshmen in of its self wasn’t necessarily the key to some of the struggles and growing pains that the Govs had in 2014, finishing 23-33 overall and 14-16 in OVC play, and missing out on the post season on the final day of the season.
But with seven freshmen being full-time – or right at full time starters — to go with five freshmen making 81 total pitching appearances along with working 40 percent of all innings pitching in 2014 there were growing pains.
The numbers bear that out.
Austin Peay saw its overall batting average drop 39 points, from .312 to .273, while seeing its earned run average go from 4.41 to 5.58, but maybe the biggest struggle came defensively where the Govs went from 75 errors (1.21 per game) to 108 errors (1.93 per game) an increase of about 38 percent.
That led to 14 one-run losses and four more two-run losses out of their 33 total (55 percent).
But that was last year and the on-the-field learning the freshmen got in 2014 have paid dividends through the first 15 games of 2015.
The Governors are 10-5 overall so far this season, but more importantly 4-1 in OVC play after their 10-8 come from seven runs down victory over Jacksonville State, March 15th at Raymond C. Hand Park.
Again, the numbers show the improvement from last year to now.
The Team batting average is up 31 points to .304 as a team, which has led to the Govs runs per game going from 6.2 to 7.3.
Add to that the team’s ERA is down over a run, to 4.77, and the defensive is averaging .33 less errors per game, which in turns cuts the unearned runs given up per game over half a run.
There is still a lot of regular season left in 2015 for the Govs, and the OVC schedule is just wrapping up its second weekend, but the experience from last year struggles have laid a foundation that the now sophomore Govs have met with positive results and hopefully a return to the postseason.