FROM PRESS RELEASE
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The UAB baseball team, which finished tied for fourth in the Conference USA standings last season, wrapped up its 33-day fall camp this past weekend. The Blazers return 19 letterwinners from last season’s club and have added 14 newcomers. UAB head coach Brian Shoop said overall he was pleased with the camp and progression of the returning veterans.
“They are all better and more comfortable,” Shoop said. “Ryan Keedy is significantly better and has been a model for what we wanted this fall. (Jonathan) Merritt’s much better after playing about 35 games up in the Northwood League this past summer and I think (Brint) Hardy’s a lot better.”
In the team’s seven-game Green vs. Gold series this fall, Keedy, a senior first baseman, hit .429 with an RBI and three walks, while Hardy hit .417 with three runs scored, a double and one triple.
The Green club won the series 4-2-1.
Junior catcher/infielder Allen Aubin shined in the series, batting .500 with two RBI, two doubles and a home run, while fellow Green teammate Austin Taylor, a junior outfielder in his first season with the Blazers, hit .667 with an RBI and three walks.
Another newcomer that had a strong series was freshman infielder Nick Crawford, who hit .333 with a pair of walks and runs scored, in addition to playing superior defense.
“Nick Crawford has such energy and passion and he probably led us in fielding percentage this fall. A lot of schools backed off of recruiting Nick because he’s so small (5-7, 145 lbs), but we’ve been the fortunate beneficiaries of that because those schools missed, he’s a very good player,” Shoop said. “Austin Taylor had a very good offensive fall, but he’s going to need to defend better.”
The Blazers not only showed improvements at the plate this fall, but also on the mound. Shoop said he was pleased with the progress of the staff and believes he has some first-year arms that will be able to contribute in the upcoming 2008 season.
“Kyle Roberson had a very good fall and it’s important that he carries that over to the spring,” Shoop said. “Mitch (Kloskowski) was super in the fall as well. Our veterans were almost a man better than a year ago and that’s the natural progression you hope for.”
Roberson struck out three in three innings and allowed just one run in his fall series start, while his counterpart, Kloskowski, also struck out three and allowed one run in three innings in earning a tie.
Senior right-hander Brandon Flaherty allowed no runs and struck out five batters in his start, while fellow senior Brandon Wallace nearly mirrored that performance, striking out five in allowing just one run in his three innings.
Two new arms Shoop was impressed with during fall camp were those of junior transfers Beau Pender and Johnny Volk. Pender, who is coming back from injury, saw limited action in the Green vs. Gold series, while Volk pitched three innings, struck out two and issued no walks.
“Pender is a legitimate Conference USA weekend guy so we need him to come back healthy for us,” Shoop said. “Volk throws a lot of strikes and has an unorthodox delivery which makes him effective and he is a very competitive kid.”
The Blazers will begin winter training on Feb. 1, 2008.