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ETSU dreaming big with Hoilman’s return
By Allen Kha
scouts graced plenty of Atlantic Sun conference games last
season, enough for then-junior first baseman Paul Hoilman’s
talent and stat line – a .425/.526/.860 triple slash with 25
home runs and 84 RBI – to shine.
However, Hoilman’s star didn’t shine bright
Scouts suggested Hoilman’s numbers were inflated
due to the conference he plays in, and that he wouldn’t fare as
well against stiffer pitching. Hoilman, a consummate
student-athlete majoring in mathematics with a GPA above 3.9 and
high MCAT scores, lasted until the Tampa Bay Rays drafted him in
the 49th round. He decided to return to school for
his senior season ready to finish his degree and prove scouts
“I just want to keep improving,” Hoilman said.
“School’s school, and it’s not hard. I take care of business as
a student-athlete, and I still aspire to be a professional
baseball player. It’s every player’s dream.
“I took the MCAT and… who knows… maybe that
scared off a few scouts with the ‘signability’ factor. But
ultimately everything came together for me to come back to
school and play out my senior season. It’s going to be a good
season for us, and I’m focused on helping this really good team
get where we want to be.”
East Tennessee State coach Tony Skole was
surprised that his star player’s draft stock fell, considering
Skole projected Hoilman to be drafted in the first 15 rounds.
a tremendous blessing to be able to welcome Paul back," said
Skole, whose Bucs lost to Mercer in the A-Sun final in 2010.
"Paul's a model student-athlete and has a tremendous work ethic.
He's willing to listen and soak things up like a sponge, both on
the field and in the classroom, and that's what makes him
special. Having him back in the middle of our lineup gives us a
chance to be very special offensively."
Stetson coach Pete Dunn also sung Hoilman’s
praises, noting that he was envious of Skole drawing the right
cards and having Hoilman opt to stay in school.
“Paul’s an amazing player,” Dunn said. “You look
at our conference and we are a good conference, with Hoilman
headlining their team this year. Players like [Florida Gulf
Coast’s Chris] Sale and Hoilman are the types of players who
slip through the cracks of the big programs, but develop into
“Our staff knew about Sale, but we actually
didn’t follow Hoilman much. But you’ve seen what he has done for
their team and their program, and he’s capable of a lot more. I
was definitely surprised to see him slip so far in the draft.
Our conference has produced some great players and he is part of
that group. He’ll play it out this season and do a great job, as
I hope our team, which is shaping up well, will, too.”
The Buccaneers (15-12 A-Sun, 32-28, but only 8-17
away from home) hope their improved pitching and Hoilman’s
return will keep them at the forefront of the Atlantic Sun with
the likes of Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast. ETSU’s pitching
staff struggled last season, conceding a 6.60 ERA and allowing
batters to hit .329. Skole believes his team’s reinforcements on
the mound will complement a powerful offense that also features
Bo Reeder (.356/20/61), Derek Trent (.348/13/66) and Matthew
“We feel like John Long, a JUCO transfer, gives
us a dominant Friday starter, and senior Bo Burton will give us
wins on the weekend,” Skole said. “Most importantly though, it
allows us to move [junior infielder/pitcher] Bo Reeder to the
closer role, which will help his stamina and allow him to
contribute offensively up to his potential.”
Hoilman added: “It’s about
what we can do as a team this season, and hopefully it’s getting
to a new level of excellence as a program.”
(photos courtesy of ETSU Athletic