THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2017 | SERVING TEXAS A&M SINCE 1893 | © 2017 STUDENT MEDIA | @THEBATTONLINE
READY TO REPEAT Pitcher Brigham Hill ready to build on 2016 success in junior year
By Heath Clary @Heath_Clary
THE BATTALION | THEBATT.COM
righam Hill has always played baseball with a chip on his shoulder. He played with it at the beginning of last year when he was fighting for innings out of the bullpen, and he played with it when he took over as the Aggies’ Friday night starter in the middle of SEC play. Don’t expect his approach to change in 2017, even as the junior right-hander enters the season as the bona-fide ace of the Texas A&M pitching staff and a preseason All-American. “Playing with a chip on my shoulder is something I’ve always done since I was little,” Hill said. “When you go out there you have to be confident and feel like they’re trying to take something away from you. Whether I’m relieving or starting, whenever Coach puts me in I’m just going to go out there and do my best. To have success you can’t have the mentality that you’re better than anyone, you just have to go out and do your thing and be comfortable.” After going 9-2 on the mound with a 2.51 ERA in 2016, Hill elected to stay in Texas and not pitch for a summer team like most college players. He threw a career-high 97 innings last year, and he and his coaches wanted to give his arm a rest after a long season. He worked out in College Station at the A&M baseball facilities during the week and spent several of his weekends back home in Nacogdoches fishing and working on his family’s ranch. Hill says his arm feels great, and head coach Rob Childress has been impressed since the fall with Hill’s physicality after an offseason of lifting. Even though Hill comes into the season under different circumstances, he will take his same bulldog-like mentality to the mound every time he takes the ball this season. Although his fastball doesn’t light up the radar gun, he commands it well to both sides of the plate and mixes in a devastating Vulcan changeup that keeps hitters off balance. “He’s deceiving. He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, but his changeup is the real deal,” said sophomore third baseman George Janca. “He throws that, and then he comes back with his fastball and it makes it look like it’s 10 mph harder than it really is.” Hill employs a relentless style of pitching that fills up the strike zone and attacks hitters all game long. “If you’re not ready to hit when HILL ON PG. 4
Senior shortstop Austin Homan returns as one of the main leaders for an A&M baseball team that enters 2017 with high expectations.
DON’T EXPECT MUCH OF A STEP BACK FROM AGGIE BASEBALL Heath Clary @Heath_Clary
Lawrence Smelser — THE BATTALION
Junior Brigham Hill went 9-2 with a 2.51 ERA in 2016 after taking over as the Friday starter in the middle of SEC play.
ost college teams that lose more than half of its starting lineup from the previous season retreat into rebuilding mode for a year or two before becoming contenders again. But there are those select few that don’t rebuild, they simply reload. Texas A&M, ranked No. 20 in D1Baseball. com’s preseason ranking, has a prime opportunity entering 2017 to prove to the country they belong in the latter category. And with the return of a deep, talented pitching staff as well as an influx of new position players ready to step up and fill the shoes of departed lynchpins like Nick Banks, JB Moss, Boomer White and more, there is no reason this Aggie team can’t be as good, if not better, than last year’s Super Regional team. The old adage is that pitching and defense win championships, and those appear to be strengths for A&M. Brigham Hill returns as BASEBALL ON PG. 3
Attendees at MSC SCONA have the opportunity to interact with top U.S. officials.
MSC SCONA to draw in high-ranking officials, over 200 students
The new face of MSC leadership
By Tyler Snell @Tyler_Snell2 Alexis Will — THE BATTALION
mittees and build unity across the university as a whole.” The MSC has 18 committees, and outgoing president and senior Brian O’Hara said Carnegie will do an outstanding job of accomplishing her goals and leading the MSC and the 18 committees. “I think that she is going to do a really good job at empowering our 18 different committees to put on even better programs for students,” O’Hara said. “One of the most important things for the MSC President is
Students will get the chance this weekend to participate in an activity most would assume are reserved for the political elites. The 62nd annual MSC Student Conference On National Affairs (SCONA) will host more than 200 students, with the aim of creating solutions to the problems associated with the theme, “Against All Enemies Foreign and Domestic: Securing the Homeland.” “The conference is all about getting together students from all across the country who have an interest in public service, national security and helping them hone in those skills both professionally and academically,” said SCONA chair Morgan Anderson. “Not only does this bring national exposure because we bring in national
CARNEGIE ON PG. 2
SCONA ON PG. 2
Junior Annie Carnegie has served as the chair of MSC Hospitality, but will now begin preparing to step into the role of the MSC President. Her term will begin April 24.
Junior Annie Carnegie named MSC President for 2017-2018 school year By Tyler Snell @Tyler_Snell2 New leadership will head the Memorial Student Center starting in April as junior Annie Carnegie was selected as the MSC President for the 2017-2018 school year after previously serving as the chair of MSC Hospitality.
Carnegie said one of her goals for the next year is to make the MSC an inviting place for students regardless of their involvement with MSC programs. “One of my largest goals for this year will be to create an environment of diversity and inclusion within the MSC where people within committees and people outside committees, just university students, can really feel welcome in this place, a place where they can come and be challenged and learn a lot,” Carnegie said. “With that, it is also my goal to build unity within the MSC com-
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Psychology junior Annie Carnegie will work with current MSC President Brian O’Hara until April 24 to set up her executive team.
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to connect to other student leaders, to help connect to other parts of campus, so more people know about our programs but also so our programs are more aligned with the student body.” Carnegie said her initial reaction was shock when she found out she was the new president. “It was something I never expected coming in as a freshman,” Carnegie said. “I didn’t have a four-year plan where I would be MSC president as a senior, but I can’t imagine going out on a better note than this.” O’Hara will work with Carnegie to set up her executive team until April 24 when she will become the official MSC president. “It’s honestly a great honor for me to work with Annie over the next two months,” O’Hara said. “I’ll be giving everything to Annie and making sure that her officer team is set up for successes beyond what we’ve achieved this year.” Carnegie said she is excited for the next year and cannot wait to witness what the student leaders on campus will accomplish. “I’m most excited to see how the team of people we will have in the MSC, and how the teams of other student leaders are going to excel this year,” Carnegie said. “I think we have the potential to do some really incredible things, and I am so excited and really so honored to be able to work with such an incredible group of people, not only within the MSC, but also across campus.”
LAST DAY TO GET YOUR AGGIELAND PHOTO TAKEN! Specialties Photography will be set up to have your FREE portrait taken for Texas A&M’s 2017 Aggieland yearbook. ALL CLASSES ARE WELCOMED 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Thursday Feb. 16th Located at the Sanders Corps Museum Library Should any student be unable to make the specified times on campus they can contact Specialties directly to set up a complimentary in-studio appointment at 979-696-9898. Any graduating seniors who wish to set up a cap/gown photo will need to contact the studio at 979-696-9898. Cap/Gown sessions cost $21.95.
A&M students participate in a SCONA roundtable in 2015.
SCONA CONTINUED exposure because we bring in national leaders here, it brings a spotlight to Texas A&M as well as it is bringing students to understand what is at stake with our country.” The conference guest speakers will be Admiral Michael Rogers, director of the NSA and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, General Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, Tawfiq Hamid, former Islamic extremist and author, Charles McMillan, director of Los Alamos National Laboratory and General William Rapp, commandant of the U.S. Army College. “We tried to balance between military and nonmilitary because we are sometimes known for having very dynamic high-ranking military speakers,” said Caitlin Cook, SCONA chief of logistics and international studies senior. “We wanted to bring in some non-military [speakers] that still have a breadth of experience.” Students will attend roundtable discussions on topics such as military strategy, economic security and critical infrastructure. Throughout the course of the conference the roundtables will create and refine a policy recommendation, and one team’s work will be chosen to go to Washington, D.C., into a lawmakers’ hands. “I think that by attending the conference [students] get a better understanding of the actual material,” said Thomas Elliott,
SCONA chief of communications and international studies junior. “They get to hear from the facilitators beforehand and their wide breadth of experience and hear what organizations those people have been in.” Elliott said SCONA tried to reach out to different areas on campus this year other than political science, history and liberal arts majors — who often attend the conference — by explaining the benefits of the conference and the opportunity to showcase Texas A&M. “We went very intentionally to those departments and said ‘Here is SCONA. Here’s how it can benefit your students,’” Elliott said. “People don’t realize there is a university of this caliber in Texas, and we are able to bring delegates from around the nation and also be able to bring those big speakers here and show them this is Texas A&M.” Cook said students who attend the conference will get the opportunity to practice policy making. “I hope that it will not only bring unity but also a wide understanding of why homeland security matters, the different facets of it and also engaging the students to participate in it, formulating real life, practical policy proposals to address some of these topics,” Cook said. “It’s a way to not only demonstrate the capacity of homeland security but also a way for students to have a hands on experience and actively make a change.”
Jacob Martindale @PapaDuck17 — THE BATTALION
STUDENT LIFE: AGGIES SHARE ROOMMATE HORROR STORIES
The Battalion | 2.16.17
The Aggies went 49-16, won the SEC tournament and advanced to the Super Regional for a secondstraight season in 2016.
BASEBALL CONTINUED the unquestioned ace of the staff, while Turner Larkins, who came on strong down the stretch last season, should thrive being in the weekend rotation for a full season. Mitchell Kilkenny pitched well in 2016 as a freshman and, after impressing scouts last summer with his four-pitch repertoire, will be an excellent Sunday starter for the Ags if head coach Rob Childress decides to go that route. Sophomore Stephen Kolek has also started games in the past and could get a look in the weekend rotation as well. Being stocked with arms will come in handy at the beginning of the season as some of the young, inexperienced position players adjust to Division I pitching. “Where we do have experience is on the mound,” said assistant coach Will Bolt. “Those guys have been through the ringer and they may have to pick us up early if we’re not ready to score seven runs a game.” In the back-end of the bullpen, the Aggies lost righties Mark Ecker and Andrew Vinson from last year’s team, but Childress has plenty of options to replace them. Corbin Martin had an outstanding summer pitching in the Cape Cod League and will begin the season as the closer. Martin fits perfectly in a reliever role because he will be able to throw his pitches at maximum effort without having to worry about facing the opposing lineup multiple times. With arguably the most electric arsenal on the squad, Martin’s dominance will be
critical to the Aggies’ success. “He’s a guy that can humiliate you at the end of the game,” Childress said. “When he’s gone out in the fall he’s been 90 to 94 [mph] every time out and maybe his stuff plays a tick better out of the bullpen and he’s 94-97 in one- and two-inning stints. Whatever role he’s in, he’s going to be important for us.” Along with Martin, Cason Sherrod and Kolek are both powerful righties who can pitch quality innings whenever called upon. Childress also has something on this year’s team that he didn’t have in 2016: A solid crop of left-handed pitchers. Junior Kaylor Chafin has matured and improved considerably since last season, and freshmen John Doxakis and Kyle Richardson have both impressed during fall and spring practice. Defensively, the Aggies have a chance to be even better than they were in 2016, when they finished third in the SEC in fielding percentage. With Austin Homan returning as a much-improved defensive shortstop after making 17 errors as a junior, George Janca moving over to third base and freshman Braden Shewmake slated to start the season at second base, A&M has three plus defenders in the infield who have all played shortstop in the past and have terrific range. The biggest position battle with opening weekend looming resides at catcher, where junior Cole Bedford and freshman Hunter Coleman remain in competition. Bedford has a strong throwing arm and some valuable SEC experience under his belt, and Coleman boasts tremendous hitting upside and solid
receiving skills behind the plate. As the quarterback of the defense, whoever wins the job will be critically important to the success of the team. In the outfield, the Aggies are anchored in center field by Nick Choruby, who assistant coach Justin Seely says is the best defensive outfielder in the conference. Walker Pennington and Blake Kopetsky look like they will begin the season in the corners, both of whom have great speed and should be able to track down plenty of fly balls. Whereas the 2016 Aggies were a station-to-station offense for the most part, this year they have at least three guys — Choruby, Shewmake and Kopetsky — who can steal at least 20 bases, and others like Homan, Pennington and Janca have the ability to make things happen on the basepaths as well. Whether it’s going first to third on a single, advancing a base on a pitch in the dirt or scoring from first on a double, the speed and aggressiveness of this team is exciting. The bottom line is that once the calendar flips to June and you’re facing top-caliber pitching in the postseason, extra base hits are at a premium and the teams that are successful can create runs. With that said, the Aggies are still a relatively inexperienced team, which means there may be some growing pains along the way. They will have to adjust on the fly and it might take them a few series to get humming and playing at the caliber that has come to be expected from Texas A&M baseball. “We’re obviously planning on winning every game but we may take some lumps
and not play the way we want to early,” Bolt said. “But it’s just learning from that and getting guys acclimated.” But that youth could actually help the Aggies. Multiple people within the program said one of the reasons the Aggies fell short of Omaha last year was because they wanted to beat TCU so badly that they put unnecessary pressure on themselves, which ultimately did more harm than good. The 2017 club seems to have a sense of unbridled energy that will allow them to go out and play its brand of baseball regardless of the situation or the circumstances. “We definitely have a motivated team,” Janca said. “No one is giving us much hope but we’ve got young guys that want to be here, we want to play for each other, and it’s not a chore to come up and have a threehour practice. It’s fun to be around everyone on the team and I think that’s what’s going to make us really good.” All in all, there is a lot to like about this team. I think their blend of speed and athleticism, defensive prowess and power arms makes the Aggies a legitimate threat in the SEC in 2017. It will probably take some good fortune for them to earn a national seed at season’s end, but hosting a regional in Olsen Field is certainly a reasonable expectation. And then, if that happens, anything can happen. Just ask Coastal Carolina. Heath Clary is a finance sophomore and sports editor for The Battalion.
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The Battalion | 2.16.17
Junior Brigham Hill chose not to pitch for a summer team in the offseason, instead opting to work out at the Texas A&M baseball facility,
HILL CONTINUED he’s on the mound, you’re going to get embarrassed,” assistant coach Will Bolt said. “He just suffocates the strike zone with good stuff. Guys that can throw strikes with command and with stuff — they’re hard to hit.” Childress said Hill plays the game on a personal level. “He’s a guy that has to go out and outcompete, outthink and outpitch you,” Childress said. “He’s an incredible competitor and he takes it personally in everything that he does.” Hill’s new role as the ace brings added responsibility. He is not only the leader of the pitching staff, but one of the guys all his teammates look to for direction. “It’s definitely a new role for me,” Hill said. “Last year I was just kind of one of the guys and this year me along with a lot of other guys have to step up. You have to get out of your comfort zone to be a good leader and we definitely try to do our best to set the example.”
Replicating his 2016 success will be no easy task for Hill, who was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 20th round of last year’s MLB Draft. The SEC boasts several lineups littered with talented hitters, and opponents will have more of a scouting report on him after seeing him pitch so much last year. Hill knows he can’t put too much pressure on himself because even though he was superb last year, baseball is a game of overcoming bad luck and adversity. “I’m going to do my best,” Hill said. “I feel great and I think it’s going to be a great season.” Because ultimately, the preseason All-American honors and other accolades coming Hill’s way don’t mean much. They prove to him that others respect his talents, but he vows to not let them get to his head and create complacency in his work habits. “It’s a really cool honor and it’s a blessing to get that, but at the end of the day that doesn’t mean anything,” Hill said. “You’ve got to go out and perform.” In other words, the chip remains squarely on his shoulder — and it doesn’t look like it will be leaving anytime soon.
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