College baseball in the fall isn’t the same as in the spring, but that didn’t stop Billikens head coach Darin Hendrickson from getting an early read on his team.
“I’m encouraged,” Hendrickson said. “Last season we put together one of the most historic years in school history, but when you lose leadership and numbers to graduation, you’re going to have some new guys. It’s not that we have a lot of new faces, we just have some guys that haven’t played baseball in a year due to a variety of reasons. I’m very encouraged by the roster. The makeup is good, and, without question, there’s talent here.”
For the first time in program history, the Billikens were able to play other collegiate opponents during the fall season. SLU played at SIUE on October 3 and at Mizzou on October 13.
“Those were great tests for us because it enabled us to play jerseys other than the one across the diamond we play everyday,” Hendrickson said. “It gives you energy, and I think it gives you a test of where you’re at.”
Hendrickson was happy with what was accomplished in those the games.
“We ended up playing a lot of innings on those two days,” Hendrickson said. “I was able to run a lot of guys out there, and that’s what it’s all about. The fall season is about feeling your way through and seeing what you have.
Newcomer Tyler Reichenborn is one of the players that stood out to Hendrickson.
“I really like Tyler at the top of our order,” Hendrickson exclaimed. “I think he’s one of the better leadoff hitters that we’ve been able to acquire.”
Reichenborn, a junior transfer from Iowa Western, is projected to be the Billikens starting centerfielder. In 55 games last season, Reichenborn hit .418 with a .522 OBP and 50 RBIs for the Reivers. This included 15 doubles, eight triples, 33 walks, and 19 stolen bases. Reichenborn was drafted in the 35th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in last year’s MLB draft.
With so many new faces on the 2019 Billiken squad, Hendrickson sees his starting rotation as a go-to for leadership.
“Our starting rotation has the potential to be three seniors and a junior, or even four seniors,” Hendrickson said. “We have an experienced staff. Our pitching, on paper, is going to have to lead us.”
The three seniors likely to be in the starting rotation include Drew Reveno, Jackson Wark and Connor Lehmann. Reveno had a fantastic spring campaign going 10-2 with a 2.13 ERA, and in 67.2 innings pitched, he recorded 52 strikeouts and 29 walks. Wark, right behind Reveno in the win column last season, went 9-2 with a 3.80 ERA, and in 83 innings pitched, he recorded 80 strikeouts while walking 38.
Connor Lehmann, in particular, drew positive attention from Hendrickson this fall. Last season Lehmann went 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched. This included 46 strikeouts, 19 walks, and two saves.
“Connor picked up where he left off,” Hendrickson said. “He’s really earned his way to becoming one of the top weekend guys we have on the roster. I’m surprised by the jump and consistency he’s shown.”
The Billikens begin the defense of their A-10 title on February 15 when they square off against Miami (Ohio) at Hoover Metropolitan Complex in Hoover, Alabama.