A little over three months after Rick Robinson was introduced as the 10th head baseball coach in University of Tennessee at Martin history, the Skyhawks held their first official practice of the fall last week.
UT Martin returns 19 players (nine position players, 10 pitchers) from last season’s squad. A half-dozen Skyhawk position players started in at least 26 of the team’s 51 games in 2014 while the UT Martin pitching staff returns four hurlers who combined to log 29 starts last season.
Meanwhile, 12 newcomers joined the Skyhawks for fall practice, as seven juniors and five freshmen will make their UT Martin debuts in the spring.
“We had all been looking forward to starting practice since June,” said Robinson, who took over the reins of the Skyhawk baseball program on June 3 after boasting a 699-281 record in 17 years as a collegiate head coach. “It was hard this summer just looking at a roster of names. Now I can put a name with their ability level. The objective of our recruiting this summer was to find depth at each position which forces the players to compete for playing time. The players have been very receptive to all the changes and are working very hard on and off the field to transform us into a quality program in every aspect.”
The team will hold intersquad scrimmages at 7 p.m. on every Thursday from Sept. 18 through Oct. 16. A “Parents Weekend” fall game will take place on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. while Scout Day will occur on Monday, Oct. 20 at 6 p.m.
In addition to those dates, Robinson has brought a new tradition to UT Martin, as the Skyhawks will play an intersquad 100-inning game on Tuesday, Nov. 4. The game – which serves as a fundraiser – is played 10 innings at a time and usually runs about four hours in length.
“The 100-inning game has always been an important part of past teams’ fundraising efforts,” Robinson said. “It also gives the players an opportunity to coach themselves and to compete in a more relaxed setting.”
UT Martin will also hold a best-of-three World Series during the final week of team practice to wrap up its fall practice schedule.
The Skyhawks officially open the Rick Robinson Era on Feb. 13-15 when they take part in a four-game, three-day tournament hosted by Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss.