Baseball opens 2023 season in Louisiana at LA Tech
PROVO, Utah — BYU baseball begins the 2023 season with back-to-back series in the state of Louisiana. The opening four-game series is set for Feb. 17-20 versus LA Tech in Ruston. The Cougars will then travel three hours south to Lafayette for a four-game series with the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana Lafayette, Feb. 22-25.
The LA Tech series begins on Friday, Feb. 17 (6 p.m. CST), with a Saturday, Feb. 18 double header (2 p.m. and 5 p.m. CST) and a Monday, Feb. 20 finale (6 p.m. CST). The games will be played at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park in Ruston.
BROADCAST INFO. All four games of the LA Tech series will be broadcast live on the BYU Radio App with Jason Shepard on play-by-play. Three of the four games (Friday, game one on Saturday and Monday) will also be broadcast in the northern Utah market on BYU Radio 107.9 FM. In addition, LA Tech will broadcast the games on CUSA.tv. Details can be found at conferenceusa.com.
SERIES HISTORY. Friday’s contest with LA Tech will be the first meeting in baseball between the Cougars and the Bulldogs. The schools have met previously in three other sports with BYU holding an overall 8-1 record in men’s basketball (2-0), football (1-0) and softball (5-1).
PRESEASON HONORS. BYU senior outfielder Cole Gambill, junior righthanded pitcher Jack Sterner and sophomore infielder Ozzie Pratt were selected by the West Coast Conference head coaches to the 2023 All-WCC Preseason Baseball Team on Tuesday.
RETURNING WCC HONOREES. BYU returns a total of 20 players from a squad that advanced to the 2022 WCC baseball tournament under new head baseball coach Trent Pratt, including First-Team All-WCC third baseman Austin Deming.
Five other All-WCC honorees are also back from the 2022 squad including, shortstop Brock Watkins, second baseman Ozzie Pratt and outfielder Ryan Sepede, as well as pitchers Jack Sterner and Bryce Robison. In addition, two other returning starters—centerfielder Cole Gambill and pitcher Carter Smith—were All-WCC honorees in 2021.
NEW IN 2023. In addition, 19 talented newcomers joined the BYU baseball program in the offseason, including five who returned from serving two-year missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—catcher Bryant Ball, pitcher/first baseman Cutter Clawson, pitcher Ben Hansen, as well as infielders Chad Call and Cam Decker.
They are joined by transfers Safea Mauai, an outfielder/first baseman from the University of Hawaii, as well as former teammates at College of Southern Idaho, lefthanded pitcher Mason Olson and outfielder Tate Gambill, who was the Scenic West Athletic Conference 2022 Player of the Year.
PROJECTED SERIES STARTERS.
Jack Sterner RHP Jr. Started 13 games, pitched 69 innings with 61 strikeouts in 2022
Bryce Robison RHP Jr. Started 9 games, pitched 60.2 innings, finished 7-1
Cutter Clawson LHP Fr. Pitched 2.1 innings in 2020, one earned run, one strikeout
Carter Smith RHP Jr. Pitched in 19 games, 16.2 innings, 10 strikeouts, 1-0 record
AROUND THE HORN. Defensively BYU returns starters in six of the eight positions, including its entire infield, with Deming at third, Watkins at shortstop, Pratt at second and Jacob Wilk at first base.
BEHIND THE PLATE. Returning senior catcher Chase Peterson, who saw action in 14 games last year, will start at catcher, while sophomore Collin Reuter will not play in the LA Tech series due to an injury. Freshman catcher Parker Goff could also see action early in the season.
ROAMING THE OUTFIELD. The Cougars also return two starting outfielders from last year’s squad, including Gambill, who will move from right field to center, and Sepede, who moves from left to take over for Gambill in right.
IN THE MIX. Returning position players with plenty of game experience in 2022 include designated hitter Josh Cowden who played in 44 games, outfielder Dawsen Hall who had 29 appearances and infielder Alex Sardina who played in 20 games. Cooper Vest, a first baseman/ outfielder who played in 27 games in 2021 but sat out last season on a medical redshirt, is once again healthy.
POSITION NEWCOMERS. New faces who could see early action in 2023 include freshmen outfielder Luke Anderson as well as infielders Sam Beck and Easton Jones.
ON THE HILL. The Cougars return two regular series starters on the mound from last year’s rotation, including game-one starter Sterner, as well as game-two starter Robison. Clawson is back from serving a mission and will be the game three starter and Smith will start on Monday in the opening series at LA Tech.
OTHERS IN THE ROTATION. Additional returning pitchers from the 2022 staff include junior righthander Peyton Cole and lefty Boston Mabeus, who together have appeared in a combined 48 games with a 3-2 record. Returning sophomore pitchers include righties Carter Foss and Jake Porter, who made a combined 21 relief appearances as freshmen in 2022.
NEW FACES. Newcomers who could see innings on the mound early include freshmen right-handed pitchers Hansen, Payton Gubler and Jameson Ferraro.
NEW SKIPPER. Trent Pratt was named head coach of the BYU baseball program on June 8, 2022. Prior to his appointment, Pratt had been an integral part of the Cougar baseball staff for the previous 10 years, including four seasons as associate head coach. During those 10 years, he served as the hitting coach, worked with the catchers and took the lead in scheduling.
Pratt served as the interim BYU head coach for the final 25 games of the 2022 season. He guided the Cougars to an overall record of 16-9 (.640) and was 10-6 (.626) in WCC games. He led BYU to a fourth-place conference finish and a spot in the 2022 WCC Baseball Tournament by winning nine of the final 10 regular-season games. Following the 2022 season, a total of 11 Cougars received postseason baseball honors from the conference, the most since 1961.
BYU third baseman Austin Deming was selected by the Houston Astros in the 10th round of the 2023 MLB Draft at Lumen…