The BYU baseball team will improve on a 7-9 record in a shortened 2020 season when the Cougars open their 2021 season on the road in Texas.
The Cougars face a busy opening week for the season, as they play eight games in seven days. BYU began the season with a four-game series against Texas State, followed by a new four-game series against the University of Texas.
BYU was named fourth in the West Coast Conference coaches poll, and received a first-place vote. No cougars were named to the All-WCC preseason team.
The Cougars return almost all players from the 2020 team, with the exception of a few key pieces.
Two BYU funds, Justin Sterner and Jardo Lessar, signed MLB contracts during the summer.
Sterner, who signed with the Miami Marlins, posted a 2.86 career ERA. Sterners’ career ERA is the fourth best in BYU history and the best since Mike Wood’s 2.60 ERA from 1976-1978.
Lessar signed with the New York Yankees in the low season. Lessar posed a 4.60 career ERA with a 1.45 WHIP.
BYU will also lack double athlete Jaren Hall. Hall will focus his attention on football in hopes of winning the starting quarterback spot this fall.
Two of BYU’s most important returnees are emergency scanners.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Bryce Robinson threw a team-best 1.32 ERA in 13.2 innings in relief last season. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Mikade Johnson threw a 2.16 ERA in 8.1 innings of relief work.
Head coach Mike Littlewood discussed the team’s pitching strength in a recent BYU SportsNation interview. “This is the most depth we have had (pitching) since I have been here. We have a lot of guys who have great speed, have good command and really know pitch. I feel like we probably have a dozen options to go to. ”
Freshman left-handed pot Boston Mabeus and junior outfielder Cole Gambill are newcomers BYU fans should keep an eye on, Littlewood said.
Mabeus is back from a mission and is expected to start in one of the first two series for the Cougars.
Really good 12-6 basket ball, and developed a good change (-up). He wants to be a key to us, “said Littlewood.
Gambill is a transition from Salt Lake Community College, where he hit .311 with 27 RBIs in his second season. Littlewood said that Gambill is their expected starter in the right field.
“Good left-handed hitter, really good defensive outfielder. We’re looking for great things from him, ”said Littlewood.
Senior outfielder Hayden Leatham is expected to make great progress this season, having gained experience with the baseball division last year.
“He came and struggled a bit last year, but he looks really good this year, it’s just experience,” said Littlewood.
The 2018 JUCO All-American led the team in the home race last season by two.
The Cougars’ first home game is on March 11 against the University of Utah, following a road series at the University of Oregon the first weekend in March.