Little Rock (LR) baseball began fall practice Monday, Sept. 25. It’s a new-look squad, having had 13 players from last year’s team graduate and 21 new athletes added. Despite many new faces, the Trojans also have a few faces familiar to LR fans, with twelve returning players. Two of them, pitchers Justin Garcia and Zach Ours, spoke with the Forum about the team and the months ahead.
Question: With so many upperclassmen leaving, do you guys feel more of a responsibility/leadership role?
Justin: “Yeah, I think not necessarily a responsibility, but we need to move into it. We lost a lot of people so someone has to step up and be a leader…. It’s definitely about holding people accountable.”
Zach: “Definitely. Last year, with me being a sophomore, it was hard for me to step into a leadership role with so many older guys…. Especially with a lot of the young pitchers, I can step in and show them what I learned over the last 2 years, so they don’t make the same mistakes I made and get right to it. I think a lot of these guys have talent.”
Question: How does the team look?
Justin: “We’re looking really good so far. We started our first official team practice Monday, and it’s been real competitive and a lot of the guys have stepped up to the moment.”
Zach: “Definitely, the talent is there. It’s a matter of execution and effort…. The execution will come, but the effort is there.”
Question: Personally, in what areas do you guys feel that you need to be better?
Justin: “I think… pitchers and hitters are mostly separated doing practice so just making connections with everyone on the team.”
Zach: “I just want to be a really good leader…. mold into that leadership role as the fall goes on.”
What areas (of improvement) for the team?
Justin: “I think as a team, we need to focus on doing the small things everyday… don’t take a day lightly.”
Question: Do you all do any bonding activities?
Justin: “Coach Curry set us up with a day at the waterpark… a lot of fun! We eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner together… we have a good bond going on!”
Zach: “The good thing is we pretty much live at the same apartment complex, so we’re always seeing each other… Coach makes sure we do a lot of things together.”
Question: Who is the team jokester?
Both: “Chandler Fidel.”
Question: What are your team expectations for the season?
Justin: “Personally I have high expectations, coming off not too good of a season last year. Coach Silva came to me last year and said it’s going be totally different next year…. We have one of the top recruiting classes in the conference.”
Zach: “Absolutely, you always want high expectations, but it’s one thing to say it and another to put a team together… and actually do it. It’ll be a good season.”
Justin: “I’m a senior, so just gain as many memories as I can… create lifelong friendships!”
Zach: “Go out there and help my team at every chance… Go back to the conference tournament… Do more than we’ve done in the past. I know we’ve been good enough in the past…. I know we are now.”
Question: Who’s going to Major League Baseball (MLB)?
Both: (Shrugging and laughing) “There’s about 6 or 7 players that could go… Two UALR players drafted last year.”
Question: What happens after baseball?
Justin: “I’m hoping to make that dream to play MLB baseball. Hopefully get drafted at the end of this year… If that doesn’t work out, pursue a career in finance.”
Zach: “Same thing, I want to play baseball as long as I can, played it since five (years of age) and loved it since five… It’s awesome to be here as far as I’ve made it… But also, I’m majoring in marketing, so I’m happy with whatever ends up.”