Wallace State baseball opens 2020 season today; Putman four wins away from 1,100 with Lions

Wallace State Head Baseball Coach Randy Putman. (WSCC Athletics)

HANCEVILLE, ALA. –  Wallace State’s baseball team opens the 2020 season at home today, welcoming Motlow State for a doubleheader at James C. Bailey Stadium.

The Lions return considerable sophomore experience in the lineup and on the pitching staff in 2020, as coach Randy Putman enters his 31st season at Wallace State. Putman is four wins shy of 1,100 career wins with the Lions.

“We have an opportunity to be a good team. I look forward to seeing how we develop. Once we get through these early injuries, we have the capabilities to be balanced,” Putman said. “We’re excited to begin the season. I’m as excited for Opening Day as I was my first year here. Opening Days are special, no matter what level you’re playing. The ultimate goal is to get better each and every time out.”

Wallace State, which finished 29-17 last season and earned a first-round bye at the ACCC Tournament, plays its first seven games at home.

Sophomore Jerry Dale Bowman returns to anchor the pitching staff. Bowman, a Smiths Station graduate, went 8-1 with a 2.28 ERA and two saves as a freshman, striking out 55 batters and walking only 17 batters in 67 innings pitched. He earned All-Southeastern District Team recognition, was an ACCC Gold Glove recipient and was also an ACCC All-North Division team selection.

Sophomore transfers Drew Talley, a Huntsville native, and Calera’s Jacob Smith are also expected to serve as big pieces of the rotation.

“Jerry Dale gives you a great chance to win every time out. We’re excited about Jacob Smith and Drew Talley in the rotation and Hunter Goodwin when he returns from injury,” Putman said.

Sophomore Kevin Dowdell was among the most versatile players on the roster last season, hitting .291 with five homers, 35 RBIs and a team-high 14 doubles. He also threw nine innings out of the bullpen.

Putman said Houston Wright, a sophomore from Hartselle, has potential to provide stability in the bullpen as well.

“We have some sophomores in the bullpen who should help us considerably,” Putman said.

Conner Burks (Hartselle), Britt Bowling (Decatur) and Dalton Hall (Mortimer Jordan) are other sophomore pitchers returning to the fold.

Caleb Marsh (Albertville), Nathan Giles (Hazel Green), Will Lawrence (Jasper, Ga.) and Dylon Wallace (Cullman) make up the freshman pitchers.

Like Dowdell, sophomore Cal Taylor (Haleyville) and freshmen Juston ‘Nicho’ Jordan (Atlanta) and Sterling Evilsizer (Smiths Station) are listed as both position players and pitchers.

Brennan McCullough, Jack Haney, Ty Hill and David Rutledge are among the sophomore bats returning this season.

McCullough, an Oxford native, hit .317 last season with 26 RBIs, while Haney hit .333 with four homers and 23 RBIs. Hill hit .308 as a freshman with 21 RBIs.

“We think Brennan McCullough can develop into an exceptional hitter, and David Rutledge had a strong fall after making some adjustments. Jack Haney was consistent last year and can be a great hitter,” Putman said.

Caden Higgins is also a returning sophomore offensively.

Freshman Cooper Beck, a 1st-team All-State selection from Cullman, should provide a lift offensively for the Lions in addition to Preston Key (Hayden), Bradley Hulin (Hazel Green) and Colton Yeager (Mountain Brook).

Garrett Warden, Derek Marrufo and Breydon Edmondson should share catching duties.

Freshmen Jackson Elkins (Winfield), Zac Elliott (John Carroll), Caleb Ragland (Oak Mountain) and Jarren Wright (Etowah) round out the roster.

Putman, a NJCAA Hall of Fame coach, has compiled a 1,096-490 record at Wallace State, winning seven ACCC titles and making six NJCAA World Series appearances.

Former Wallace State pitcher Bret Marks, the 2012 ACCC Pitcher of the Year and former draft pick of the New York Yankees, is in his second season as Wallace State’s assistant coach and pitching coach.

The conference opener is March 5 vs. Calhoun.

 For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit www.athletics.wallacestate.edu or the athletics Facebook page at www.wallacestate.edu/athleticsfb.