Eugene, Ore. -- It's no secret that there have been frustrations with Oregon baseball in recent years. The program, which was re-established in 2009 quickly rose to prominence, peaking in 2012 and 2013, in which the Ducks had back to back 45+ win seasons, national NCAA tournament seedings, as well as top 3 Pac-12 finishes. But since their last appearance in 2015, Oregon has slid under head coach George Horton, who has been guided the program for 11 years now. It came to a head last year, with the Ducks finishing 26-29, their lowest win total since that 2009 season and their third straight 8th place finish in the Pac-12. Like all teams, they enter a new year with renewed faith, but players believe that isn't empty platitudes this season.
"Our chemistry has been the best since I've been here", says junior Spencer Steer. "Everyone seems has really bought in to what the coaching staff is telling us to do. It's been a frustrating couple of years but the freshman have come in and really gelled with the older guys."
"I think at the end of the day, we were short," Horton follows up. " I don't think we passed the eye test. We were too small, too slow. I take responsibility for that...I think we have more Division I championship type players in our program now than we've had in the last several years."
The Ducks return several key contributors from their 2018 team, with the junior class providing the bulk of the leadership for this upcoming season. Jakob Goldfarb will be the lone senior, joining others such as Kenyon Yovan and Ryne Nelson, who are attracting potential major league interest. The freshman class, who are already lauded by Horton as well as his upperclassmen players, will likely fill certain infield roles, and provide much needed depth to a team that hasn't had much of it in recent years.
"When I say we have some good battles at undetermined positions, that's what we mean," says Horton. "We pass the eye test better than we have in the last couple of years. We were awfully thin last year, I thought."
Oregon opens their 2019 season with a four game road trip to Texas Tech, ranked in the preseason Top 10 in several publications, the most recent being a No. 4 spot in USA Today. Oregon checked in at 31 in D1Baseball.com's Fabulous 40. They open up the season at home on February 22nd against St. Mary's.