As the reigning Big East champions, Creighton baseball takes the field this weekend to jump-start their 2020 season.
The historic season last spring moved seven players into the professional ranks, leaving a young team to fill the shoes of the conference champs.
Senior infielder Parker Upton is one returner looking to bring the momentum from last season to his new field of young teammates.
“The biggest thing we need right now is leadership,” Upton said. “There’s a lot of new faces, but we have a good core of returners to guide those new players.”
Upton was recently named to the NCBWA Preseason All-American Second Team as the only Big East player selected. Last season he produced a .324 batting average, 65 runs including 10 home runs in his 51 games played–all stats he hopes to mimic going into his final year.
“I’m looking for a similar season to last year, getting on base and scoring runs for the team,” he said. “I hope to develop more in producing more RBIs because we lost a lot of those players for us.”
Previously having played outfield, Upton is being moved to shortstop this season to accommodate losing much of the infield lineup. These adjustments will also mean a lot for the newcomers or the players who were a part of the program with last year’s team, but didn’t have the chance to play.
Head coach Ed Servais spoke on this aspect of this year’s team.
“It’s created some competition in practice because they know we lost players. It creates a lot of opportunities for new players into the program,” he said. “We’ll find out but I hope some of that tradition of winning carries over.”
Servais mentioned throughout the field as some of the younger talent to look out for as they settle into their new roles.
With less experience than usual, there’s also the potential for shifts in lineups as the season goes on. But Servais has already noticed the depth of the team allowing for movement which he notes will be a strength to use throughout the season—especially during long game blocks.
While the team knows there’ll be challenges Upton recognizes that this group is level-headed which will keep them grounded in long stretches and play a big role in their success. From experience he hopes to be a guide in those moments.
“I need to be a good role model, I’m looking to myself to have a positive outlook on negative situations and keep that up throughout the season,” he said.
Servais is confident in his team and enters the season ready to watch the improvement and ways the players step up week by week to give them an edge as they progress through the season.
“We have to get better every week. One of our goals is that by the time we get into conference play we’re playing at a very high level,” Servais said.
Entering the first weekend he’s ready to see how the new team will compete outside of practice.
“I expect us to play hard, to execute the game, to come together a little bit,” Servais said. “I’m interested to see how they deal with intensity and the positives and negatives of the game.”
The Jays travel to Seattle for the weekend where they’ll play in a three game series against Seattle University who went 13-39 last spring.