Thereâ€™s a new energy on the uptown campus of Tulane University surrounding their baseball program.
A lot of that energy comes from the direction the program has taken under head coach David Pierce. After years as an assistant at Rice under Wayne Graham and then three very successful seasons as the head coach at Sam Houston State, the 2015 season was his first at Tulane and he immediately put the team back in a regional for the first time since 2008.
But really, a lot of the momentum started a year earlier, when then-head coach Rick Jones welcomed in a potentially program-changing recruiting class. After dealing with some growing pains in their first season, that group played a big role in getting the team to a regional last season, and now that core will look to lead the program to even greater heights in 2016.
Leading the way in that group is Stephen Alemais, who hit .312 last year with 11 doubles, three triples, and 27 stolen bases. He also struck out just 25 times in 250 at-bats. Heâ€™ll go into the season as a potential All-American and blue-chip MLB prospect.
Also among the juniors areÂ Hunter Williams, Jake Willsey, Lex Kaplan, Hunter Hope, and Jake Rogers. Statistically speaking, some of those guys have yet to fully tap into their potential, but all could be improved in the coming season. Williams and Hope, in particular, show big-time power potential, and Kaplan provides a unique power/speed combination. Theyâ€™ll be joined in the order by senior Richard Carthon, who has been a quality contributor for four years and Grant Brown, another third-year player who showed some potential early last season before being lost due to injury.
The pitching staff is led by juniors as well, most notably last yearâ€™s staff ace Corey Merrill, but there is also a healthy contingent of senior leadership on the mound in the likes of Emerson Gibbs, Patrick Duester, Alex Massey, and Tim Yandel. J.P France, one of the most touted members of that recruiting class two years ago, had a tough freshman season and then missed all of last season, but heâ€™ll have a chance to bounce back in 2016.
The Green Wave may have arrived a year early last year, but the experience gained along the way will be yet another huge positive leading to what could be a big year in the Big Easy.