Andrew Fregia, Sam Houston State

Fall Report: Sam Houston State

Fall Report

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Sam Houston State is one of the nation’s premier mid-majors for a good reason.

It wasn’t too long ago, before the Mark Johnson era at SHSU, that the Bearkats were an afterthought in the State of Texas. Sure, they’d occasionally make the NCAA postseason, but nothing like this.

Johnson, the legendary former Texas A&M coach turned program builder in Huntsville, got the Bearkats kick-started in the right direction, while David Pierce, who is now at Texas, turned SHSU into a postseason mainstay. Now, Matt Deggs is continuing where Pierce left off and took the program to unprecedented territory last season with a super-regional appearance after knocking off national seed Texas Tech in the Lubbock Regional.

Last season was fun for the Bearkats. Deggs will admit that. But he’s not completely satisfied and neither is his team. They are fine with the super-regional berth, but one-hit wonder they aspire not to be. They want to become the first team in SHSU history to navigate to the College World Series.

That much is evident by the way this team practices.

“We are 100 percent ahead of where we were last year at this point. The competition out there is awesome, the scrimmages look like some we had when I was at UL (UL Lafayette), and it’s just confrontation after confrontation out there,” Deggs said. “We have a chance to have a very special team. What the team did a year ago – that club kind of set the bar for where we need to be.

“We return 23 guys from that supers team last year, and what I have really enjoyed about this club is there’s just a great spirit to them,” he continued. “They are the same guys each day. There’s not a lot of fanfare, but they love to work. I thought Coach [Lance] Harvell and Coach [Jay] Sirianni did a terrific job with what players we brought in this fall.”

There are some obvious question marks with this team as fall workouts progress. While most aspects look good on paper, replacing righthander Heath Donica, outfielder Bryce Johnson and catcher Robie Rojas won’t be easy. Donica was a steady Friday night arm, Johnson was a speedster who often set the table for the Bearkats offense and Rojas was a quality catcher who served as the team leader and unquestioned fan favorite.

What’s the scoop on the Bearkats this fall? It’s time to find out.


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