Hoping to build on its first regional appearance in seven years, the Tulane baseball team will have plenty of new faces when it starts fall practice on Tuesday.
Half of the 42 players were not on the active roster last spring in coach David Pierce’s first season, including seven transfers with Division I experience.
Catcher Jeremy Montalbano, who redshirted last year, started 45 times at Texas in 2013 and 2014.
Outfielder Jarret Dehart played in 10 games for LSU in 2013 before transferring to Howard Junior College.
Sophomore infielder Matt Rowland originally signed with Louisville before attending Scottsdale Community College.
Evan Rutter pitched in relief for three years at Rice from 2012 to 2014.
Pitcher Chris Oakley signed with North Carolina before transferring to Florence-Darlington Technical College, where he started 10 games.
Pitcher Christian Colletti started nine times at Connecticut in 2013 before having his 2014 season curtailed by a shoulder injury.
Plus, Pierce’s son, senior infielder Shea Pierce, started 45 games for Sam Houston State in 2014 when Pierce coached there.
“Those guys have a chance to really help us a lot, and they are going to fit in really well,” Pierce said. “Jeremy Montalbano is going to be a tremendous guy, hopefully in the middle of the lineup somewhere. The one I’m really excited about as well is Jarret DeHart, who shows a lot of passion for the game and really works hard and already has made his mark with the team.”
Tulane went 35-25 last spring, finishing tied for third in the American Athletic Conference and advancing to the Baton Rouge regional. Key returners include shortstop Stephen Alemais, who hit a team-best .312, Hunter Williams, who batted .285, Jake Willsey (.263), Lex Kaplan (.243) and catcher Jake Rogers (.227) who threw out 33 of 57 base-stealers.
The entire starting rotation of pitchers Emerson Gibbs, Alex Massey, Corey Merrill and Patrick Duester returns, but Pierce said he would not use Gibbs or Tim Yandel in the fall after they had high inning counts in the Cal Ripken summer baseball league. Gibbs pitched 56.2 innings for the Baltimore Redbirds with an ERA of 0.86, while Yandel logged 55 innings for the Bethesda Big Train with a 1.15 ERA.
“Part of the fall for them is rest,” Pierce said. “It’s going to free up some more innings for new guys as well.”
Pierce added that sophomore pitcher J.P. France, who had surgery last November for bone spurs in his right elbow, was not ready to return yet but was making good progress.
By the start of spring, Pierce will have to pare the roster to 35.
“I’m looking at combinations,” he said. “We’re still trying to turn our roster over and create competition within the program.”