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Rundles anxious to get season started

After going 31-24 last season and coming to within a half-game of making a long awaited appearance at the Gulf South Conference, the UWA Tigers baseball team has only one thought on its mind coming into the 2004 season.

In his fourth year as the Tigers head coach, skipper Gary Rundles knows his team is prepared to go further this year than it has been since he arrived in Livingston.

The Tigers had a successful six week fall season that saw many returning starters show tremendous improvement from last year and coach Rundles believes the Tigers will be strong in many phases of the game this year.

The Tigers have plenty of young talent this year but will need many of their eight seniors to step up and become leaders.

Coach Rundles expects for seniors A.J. Ray, Jason Herman, Scott Needs, Rafael Farrell and Michael Riggs to be his dominate leaders this season but after watching the players in action this past fall, Rundles has noticed a few young players that have potential to be leaders as well.

This season the Tigers have as many as nine freshmen on their roster. And while many will be red-shirted, there are a few that will be looked upon from coach Rundles for aid from time to time.

Freshman pitcher and Demopolis High School graduate Matt Chambless should become a part of the starting rotation at some time this season. Rundles likes what he has seen thus far from the competitive spirited youngster and expects to use him a great deal this season.

The right-hander has a nice fastball that tops out around 88 mph along with a curve ball with excellent movement, but coach Rundles believes it is his presence on the mound that is his biggest weapon.

But Chambless will not be the only freshmen this season to see action.

Lefty pitcher Chase LaCoste will also see his fair share of time on the mound this season as a relief pitcher. The Sumter Academy graduate will be youngest of three southpaws in the bullpen this season.

But if senior pitcher Jason Herman performs as expected this season, LaCoste may want to invest in a nice cot to sleep on. All eyes will definitely be on the 6’3" right-hander this season that coach Rundles believes is a possible draft pick come next year.

With such a talented and deep bullpen this season, the Tigers might finally have all the right ingredients for a winning team.

But with roughly a month to go before their season opener against Southern Arkansas on January 31st, there will not be much time for the Tigers to enjoy a well-rested holiday.