By Jordan Smith | Sports Editor
Baylor Bears baseball is up and running once again.
Practices resumed Friday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears are coming off of a disappointing 24-29 record last season. Despite the season’s outcome, Baylor qualified for the Big 12 Championship and got all the way to the final before losing to the Texas Longhorns 15-3 in seven innings of play.
Senior catcher Matt Menard had high praise for Baylor baseball head coach Steve Rodriguez in relation to Rodriguez getting Menard back to Baylor Ballpark for a fifth season playing for Baylor.
“That guy fought tooth and nail. He was so generous and so genuine with me. How can you not fight for the guy you know? So, here I am, and I am so excited and so thankful that I was able to come back for my fifth year and be the old guy, the grandpa on the team. So, that’s fun,” Menard said.
In his career at Baylor, Menard has hit for a .258 batting average, along with 53 runs batted in and an on base plus slugging percentage of .706 in 141 games played. He has started in 116 of those games.
Rodriguez is entering his second season as the head skipper at Baylor. In the 11 seasons before, he was the head skipper at Pepperdine University where he compiled a record of 425-329 and made eight NCAA tournament appearances.
Rodriguez is excited to get back into the swing of things after a long winter offseason.
“First day, I love it. I think it’s every coach’s dream when you come out here,” Rodriguez said. “It’s the first day; everyone is excited. You wake up, you want to put the uniform on. As much as a coach, you want to prepare your guys, you still get some giddiness about it just because it’s really fun.”
Senior catcher and first baseman Aaron Dodson is a player that has three years of experience with Baylor and has been here since Rodriguez’s first day at Baylor. In his career at Baylor, Dodson has hit a .236 average with 10 home runs and 47 walks in his three seasons of play.
Dodson likes the skill set from the young recruits that were brought onto the team this season.
“It’s almost like a breath of fresh air. They’re wide-eyed, ready to listen, soaking in everything, just competing. It’s fun to watch them play. It’s fun to have them out here,” Dodson said.
The Bears open up the season at 6:35 p.m. Feb. 17 at Baylor Ballpark in Waco for opening day 2017 against the Niagara University Purple Eagles. Fans can listen to live play-by-play commentary of opening day on Baylor Lariat Radio with coverage starting at 6:05 p.m.