• New era begins for Baylor baseball under Mitch Thompson

    Mitch Thompson at Baylor Ballpark

    Every Opening Day signals the start of something new in college baseball, but this year brings added change and excitement for Baylor baseball. It’s the start of a new era under Mitch Thompson, the longtime Baylor assistant (and national championship-winning head coach at McLennan Community College) who was named the 20th head coach of Baylor Baseball last June.

    For the Bears, this new era will be led by a man who played a key role in the program’s past success. In Thompson’s 18 years in green and gold (1995-2012), the program won three Big 12 titles and and reached the College World Series in 2005. As a recruiter, he brought some of the top players in program history to the Brazos — 72 of which went on to play professional baseball, including 12 big leaguers. Two of those recruits — Zach Dillon (BSEd ’05, MS ’09) and Jim Blair (BS ’00) — join Thompson on his staff at Baylor, the place he calls his “dream job.”

    Thompson takes over a program that will welcome numerous new faces alongside a few returning veterans, most of whom will work from the pitching mound. Fifth-year senior Blake Helton and juniors Will Rigney, Kobe Andrade, Cam Caley and Cole Stasio are among those who will be expected to play key roles on the pitching staff, and will be relied on for a veteran presence. Helton actually had a job lined up at Dell after graduation, but chose to come back and play under Thompson after he was hired.

    At the plate and in the field, junior Harrison Caley and sophomores Casen Neumann and Cortlan Castle bring the most returning experience, with Neumann accounting for the only two returning home runs on the team from last year’s squad. They’ll be joined by a mix of talented freshmen and transfers, names Baylor fans will get to know in the weeks ahead as they play key roles on the team.

    Fan enthusiasm for baseball’s new era — evidenced by record crowds attending “Thompy’s Texas Tour” in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas — can manifest itself through attendance at a home-heavy schedule at Baylor Ballpark this year. Of the Bears’ first 21 games this year, 18 are at home — starting with a three-game series against Central Michigan (winners of two Mid-American conference regular season titles and two tournament titles in the last four years) this weekend. First pitch Friday is at 3 p.m.; season and individual-game tickets are available now!

    Sic ’em, Bears!

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