I have followed the Cincinnati Bearcats baseball twitter account for about 3 years now, they have not been good the past 3 years. That is the nicest way I can put it. However, they took the right step 2 years ago hiring former Indiana assistant coach Ty Neal to coach the Bearcats. They had a winning season in 2011 and haven't hit the above .500 mark to finish the season since then. That year, the Bearcats lost to Louisville in the Big East Championship in Clearwater, Florida. I remember watching that game because they had a decent shot of going to the College World Series . They ended up losing to the Cards which put the nail in the coffin when it came to their CWS hopes. That would continue the drought for the Bearcats which stretches all the way back to 1974. Yikes. Ty Neal has this team going in the right direction though. He has a very young team right now. I went to the game this past Friday against Memphis and I couldn't tell you how many freshmen I saw starting in that lineup. Lead-off hitter RJ Thompson, Ian Happ, Devin Wenzel, and Woody Wallace were the only upper class men in the starting lineup. They are very young, and it is an understatement to say that.
Roster Breakdown: By grade
- Freshmen: 22
- Sophomores: 5
- Juniors: 7
- Senior: 1
If you didn't know that they had 22 freshmen, I think you would've assumed that the team is a joke but they are far from it. As of late, they are one of the hottest teams in the conference. They have won their last 3 series'. Against #6 UCF, Indiana, and Memphis to the list. Note: After the 2 losses to UC, UCF fell to #10 in the nation, and then fell again to #17. UC who are winners of 5 of their last 7, are a team that is starting to get in a rhythm.
I really enjoyed going to the game Friday night, and if I don't have anything going on Wednesday, I imagine I'll be seating in the stadium watching the Bearcats play for the championship of the Joe Nuxhall Classic. The teams in the tournament are UC, XU, Miami (OH) and Wright State. If anybody who reads this does take my advice and goes to the game, look out for #5 Ian Happ. The kid is a ballplayer. Happ is a MLB prospect and not just a late round pick. We are talking 1st round, #9 overall to the Chicago Cubs. He is as good as advertised. He is hitting .397, with 46 hits, 26 RBI's and 9 dingers. He had his 29 game on base streak snapped on Friday night, struggled Saturday night, but bounced back nicely Sunday with a 5-5 day with 2 homers off Fifth Third Arena. The junior is tearing it up on the field, and that has led to him receiving lots of national attention. He was picked to be the player of the year in the American, if he stays on pace with what he is doing now, he will no doubt get that award. He just made the D1Baseball.com Mid-Season All American team. Like I said earlier, only a junior. It would be nice to see him back in the red and black next year because with him the team could be a fun team to watch next spring and a force to reckon with in the American.
Proof of the national attention Happ is getting
They are still a team to reckon with right now even sitting at 11 games under the .500 mark, they have all the pieces to cause some damage in league play. I noticed on Friday night they can go through stretches of some mental mistakes. A few costly errors here and there and it ends up hurting them. That comes with having a young team. However, as the season goes on, you gain more experience and confidence and those mistakes will slowly not come up as much. Right now, conference wise, they sit at 4-5. (If you want to see how the league standings look go here) they can make a move over the next few weeks. With USF sitting at 7-2 and the next 7 teams sitting at either 5-4 or 4-5. It can get interesting. I think this team has caught some fire as of late, who knows maybe we can see a run from now and into the American Tournament.
Cincinnati Bearcat baseball has been blessed with the potential to be a great up and coming program. Ty Neal had this to say in an article written by GoBearcats.com writer Bill Koch. The full article can be found here.
"I think the product is here," Neal said. "I just think there's a lot of locals, a lot of families and kids from the state of Ohio and in the Midwest that are still waiting to see what's going to happen here.
"It's not real sexy right now for those local kids to tell their friends, `Hey, I'm going to go play baseball for the Bearcats.' It's cool for them to say, `Hey, I'm going to go play for Louisville or Georgia Tech or Kentucky' because those are good programs and they've got that ACC-SEC name attached to it."
I think he is 100% correct. Once he can build up the team and program, it will start to bring in kids from the area to play ball in Clifton. He at least won't lose as many kids to the likes of the ACC & SEC like he is now. It may be a long process, it may not, but we are going to have to wait and see how that pans out over the next few years. Now, back to my point about them being blessed. They just got state of the art field turf over the past off season, they have a state of the art stadium. I mean look at this beautiful photography that shows how great it is there. I would kill to play on a field that looks as sharp as the one the Bearcats get to play their home games on.
A nice panorama from UC's 6-2 win over Memphis Friday Night.
UC is really lucky to have the guys and gals in the DAAP program because they definitely have influence it what designs get put in to play on the site of these stadiums and arenas. Under Armour is planning to use DAAP's triangle shapes of the Lindner Center, and make them the schools new stripe.
Now I'm getting side tracked. Baseball, nothing else in this article. The baseball program, with it's stadium, with the new field has the chance to appeal to some players in the state of Ohio and others players in other states. Once they start winning, this will be a program that can will the stadium. Who knows, maybe even have the chance to host nationally televised baseball or maybe elevates from the likes of BearcatsTV which I hope to invest in soon. I'm excited to see how the program grows, while I am at Elder and while I am hopefully at UC. I can definitely see myself spending a lot of my free time in the up coming springs at Marge Schott Stadium.