Feb. 8, 2013
Feb. 5 Coach Kaz Audio Interview
Air Force baseball begins its 2013 season on Friday, Feb. 15. Head coach Mike Kazlausky sat down and answered some questions about the upcoming season.
Q: Can you give us an early assessment of the 2013 Falcons?
A: We, as a staff, are very excited about the 2013 season. We have a lot of seniors returning this year, meaning we have a lot of leadership. The leadership qualities have been evident through Fall Ball, preseason workouts and so far this early Spring. I am very impressed with the dedication and commitment our seniors have shown in getting prepared for this season.
Complementing our big senior class, we have a solid core of juniors and sophomores that are looking to build off of last season. We also add a talented freshman class where we envision several rookies contributing immediately.
Our guys have only been outside practicing for a few weeks, but the intensity, determination and focus to improve has gotten better and better with each day. The energy, the passion, the drive and determination to get better has been off the charts with this group. Again, our seniors have been a great conduit in instilling this drive to succeed with our younger guys and it’s been fun to watch our guys working their tails off to get better.
One of our team goals this year is to move up in the Mountain West standings from years’ past. This conference is always tough year-in and year-out, so we will have our work cut out for us. But this group has shown the willingness and desire to get better and I have no doubt that we will be successful this season.
We get to play in the conference tournament this year and our guys are very excited about that opportunity. We’ll be looking to build towards the postseason so that we’re playing our best ball late this year.
Q: Team motto for this year?
A: Our team motto for this year is really simple. Just Commit. All that it means is that when you’re down at the ball field, in the weight room, in the classroom, or in your squadron--just commit. Commit to doing everything possible and be at your best. We understand that being at the Air Force Academy, it’s a lot more than looking at the outcome of a baseball game. It’s about building future leaders for our Air Force. This place is the trial ground before going out into the real world. Through the adversity and heat-of-the-moment battles they’ll go through on the baseball field, we hope these moments help them become better prepared when they have to go out into battle as a member of the Air Force.
Q: Who will be your team captain this year?
A: Our team captain is senior second baseman Matthew Roberts. He’s done a fantastic job as a leader and we expect him to continue to be a strong builder of character for our young guys.
Matt is our team captain, but our entire senior class will be leading the team. They’ve been through it all in their first three years. They’re hungry to leave the Academy on a high note and to leave a lasting legacy with the program.
Q: Can you give us a quick rundown of the lineup?
A: We pretty much have returning starters at every position in the field and it’s a luxury to have some stability early in the season. Across the infield, the projected lineup will be sophomore Noah Pierce at third, senior Matt Thorne at shortstop, Matthew Roberts at second and junior Seth Kline at first. Senior Garrett Custons and sophomore Brian Sicher will share duties at catcher. Custons will also see time in the outfield.
In the outfield, senior Alex Bast will see time in center and left field. Two-sport (football) athlete David Baska will see time in the outfield along with sophomore David Thomas. We also have three freshman that could see time in the RF/DH spots in Zach Reks, Spencer Draws and Mariano Long.
Q: How is the pitching staff shaping up?
A: It’s another area with a mix of veterans and young arms. Our weekend rotation will start out with junior Cameron White, senior Ben Bertelson and freshman Steven Trojan. The fourth spot is currently up for grabs with either senior Alex Baker and freshman Trent Monaghan battling it out.
Junior David Baska and sophomore Ben Yokley will get the early looks to close out games. Our bullpen will rely heavily on a senior-laden group of Matt Zettler, Jack Hourin and Todd Del Toro. Sophomore lefty Dillon Freeman will see action with freshmen Bo Wilson and Brady Weaver.
We have a lot of arms in the bullpen this season. With the mix of veteran and young arms, we will see what we have as we go.
Q: Can you talk about the 2013 schedule?
A: We are very excited to start the season off against a strong UTSA squad. The Freedom Classic with Navy is always a battle and the four games at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Fla., will give us some quality opponents in good weather. After a weekend slate against a tough Gardner Webb team, we open Mountain West play against newcomer Nevada. Both Nevada and Fresno State join our league and will make this a tougher baseball conference.
One thing we will be trying to do on each trip this year, is getting out and doing something with the community we play in. I think it’s important for our guys to give back and be involved with the greater community in any way they can. They are going to go on an serve our nation and I want our guys to be as well rounded individuals as possible when they leave the Academy.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Yes, I’d like to mention our fantastic assistant coaches. Pitching coach Tim Dixon and assistant coach Toby Bicknell enter their third season with me in the program. It takes more than one coach to build a program and Tim and Toby have done an excellent job in preparing us to get to that next level we constantly strive to get to. In addition, new Volunteer Coach Adam Curynski has been a valuable new addition.