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College Baseball: LeTourneau enjoying diamond success

By Hayden Henry
May 6, 2014 at 10 p.m.

To say that LeTourneau has had a storied season would be an understatement.

But the 2014 season just doesn't reflect on this year's team, it demonstrates and highlights a change in the baseball program that's been a few years in the making.

As the Yellowjackets head to the American Southwest Conference tournament for the first time in program history tonight in Austin, they'll bring a seasoned team that's been a part of a dramatic upswing for LeTourneau baseball.

For head coach Robin Harriss, it's the culmination of senior leadership, hard work and retention that have the Yellowjackets in the record books.

"We're graduating 10 guys and we plan on doing the same next year," Harriss said. "These guys all contribute at such a high level whether it's being a role player, providing energy and contributing off the bench, pushing each other in practice and doing the right things in the classroom – They've all done a tremendous job.

"You don't just roll out of bed and graduate from LeTourneau just like you don't roll out of bed and play college baseball. They've worked their tail off every step of the way and everything they've got, they have earned and deserved."

Not only has LeTourneau reached the conference tournament for the first time, they'll make their debut today as the No. 2 seed, finishing with a 28-12 mark, a half-game behind tournament host Concordia.

"We were picked to finish ninth by the coaches in the preseason poll," Harriss said. "That put a little chip on our shoulder and the guys used that and worked hard all year long to reach this point."

For Spring Hill standout and LeTourneau graduate student Garrett Methvin, who has played for the Yellowjackets for three seasons and was named ASC Hitter of the Week on Monday, it's not only seeing the hard work pay off but it's setting the stage for the future.

"It's the dedication and hard work that's gotten us here. We've never had a team that's put in this much time on the field, off the field, in the classroom, not only this year but for the past few years," Methvin said. "We've just gotten better every year and it's a tribute to that hard work.

"It's a blessed season and something that I've wanted since I got here. It's a dream come true to get to where we've gotten and where this program has gotten."

Lake Worth, Florida native Curt Copeland noted that the energy level around campus is something he hasn't seen in his two years in the program.

"It's never been seen around here before and it's really exciting to be a part of that," Copeland said. "We've got a target on our back having beaten every team at least once this year and that's something that LeTourneau hasn't had to deal with before.

"We're ready."

The Yellowjackets will enter the tournament on a four-game winning streak, taking 2-of-3 from No. 4 seed Mary-Hardin Baylor and completing its fifth series sweep of the season, battling past University of the Ozarks to close the regular season.

Copeland said the Yellowjackets don't have to change a thing heading in.

"It's the small things that have gotten us here – defense, pitching and timely hitting – and we've been doing those things all season long. We're in good shape heading in."

Methvin added: "There's no pressure. We've got a team of guys that have dealt with it before. We all know about the hype and it's not a big deal to us. We're just pumped and ready to go."

Copeland will get the start as LeTourneau opens the double elimination tournament action at 7 p.m. tonight against No. 7 Louisiana College, who the Yellowjackets swept to open conference action in February. Copeland scattered five hits in seven scoreless inning of work against Louisiana College in the conference opener, a 6-0 win.

Excitement is high for the Yellowjackets, not only for this season but for the future as well.

"It's the first time we've done this and for barely missing the playoffs in the past two seasons to jumping to the No. 2 seed is huge," Harriss said. "It's a jump we knew we could make and to see the guys buy into that has been great.

"The leadership of the older guys has been outstanding. They've brought the younger guys with them and it's changed the culture of this team.

"That culture has changed, it's a winning tradition here."

<em>(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: <a href="" target="_blank">@hayden_h</a>)</em>



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