Meade’s arrival brings stability, hope to Texan Baseball program entering final Division II season


The 2019 season was hard for the Texan Baseball program.

Student-athletes battled day-in and day-out as proud defenders of the purple and white, but without an experienced leader at the helm Tarleton stumbled into the Lone Star Conference Championship Tournament.

Then a new head coach was hired, bringing excitement and enthusiasm to Stephenville. That was short-lived, however, as the coach left after just a month on the job leaving the program without a head coach once again.

It was a tough year for the Texans.

But those who weathered the storm and persevered have been rewarded with a renewed energy brought on by first-year head coach Aaron Meade, whose hiring stabilized the Tarleton program in late July.

“This (was) one of most intense summers that I can remember in 30 years here, but we’re excited that everything has brought us to this point,” said Athletic Director Lonn Reisman at Meade’s introductory press conference. “Aaron is a young man that we are all very excited about. He has had success as a top assistant at the NCAA Division II level and I expect he will bring that success to Stephenville. He is a very impressive young man with a strong drive and passion about winning baseball games and helping our young men succeed in the classroom. I’m looking forward to watching him grow as the next head baseball coach.”

Meade comes to Tarleton after spending four years at Pitt State where he helped revitalize a Gorilla Baseball program into an MIAA powerhouse over the last two seasons. With playing experience at the NCAA Division I and minor league professional levels, Meade is excited for the challenge of leading the Texans back to prominence and beyond.

“Our expectation will always be to compete for championships,” said Meade. “Last year was a small bump in the road for a program that has historically been very successful. The guys in our locker room are closer and stronger because of it. I expect them to very to be hungry and motivated for the opportunity that lies ahead as we start our final season at the Division II level.”

Not to be overlooked in the year-long search for a head coach, Meade inherited a core group of returning student-athletes whose leadership in the face of adversity will be of tremendous value for the Texans in 2020. Leading the way will be senior captains Luke Morton, Blake Burns, and Tyler Fowler, as well as redshirt junior captain Corey Young. Young and Morton return to the lineup after injury-plagued seasons a year ago while Burns (.315) and Fowler (.320) return as the team’s leading offensive weapons.

“Any successful program has great culture and leadership,” said Meade. “Our four captains do a great job of representing our baseball program both on and off the field. They – and the rest of our seniors – have bought in from day one and we will rely heavily on them this upcoming season.”

Other returning lettermen from last season include – Hunter Thomas, Jon Law, Dylan Antonelli, Jake Spence, Zach Mesa, Jordan Parker, Dexter Pruitt, Easton Brown, Sid Payan, Ty Jones, Michael Pilato, Ty Windham, and Zane Badmaev. Redshirt freshmen Gannon Azios and Kade Turnage also return after a year in the program.

Along with Meade will be several Texans making their debuts for the purple and white, including key offensive NCAA Division I transfers – Wade Raburn and Dean Frew. Raburn comes to Tarleton after hitting .304 in 35 games for the University of New Orleans last season while Frew comes in from TCU where the Australia native drove in four RBI in 14 games for the Frogs.

“We have a talented group of newcomers, many of which will have opportunity to step in and contribute right away,” said Meade. “Wade can really go get it in the outfield and will add a spark at the top of our lineup. He brings great energy to our program. Dean brings a lot of experience and his ability to play all over the infield will really benefit us. Justin Waltmon and Luke Baley will add valuable experience to our pitching staff that returns a number of quality arms.”

Tarleton will not have any time to prepare for conference play as the league season begins right off the bat. With the increase in Lone Star Conference baseball teams from seven to 14, Tarleton will play a closed conference schedule beginning January 31 with a three-game series against the newest member of the LSC and NCAA Division II UT Tyler in Tyler.

The Texans will make their home debut on Friday, February 7 when they host UT Permian Basin at 2 p.m. in Stephenville.

This will be Tarleton’s final season of NCAA Division II competition as the university will move to the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and NCAA Division I next year.


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