March 23, 2010
By Phil Stanton
Tennessee State University has won 13 of its first 17 games,
including 11-2 at home. The Buccaneers, under 11th-year head
coach Tony Skole, started Atlantic Sun play this past weekend
with a three-game sweep of USC Upstate.
One of the major contributors is junior Paul
Hoilman. The 6’5 first baseman is hitting .464 in 17 games with
nine home runs and 29 RBI. A native of Johnson City, Tenn.,
Hoilman has an on-base percentage of .549 and a slugging
percentage of .957.
A Second Team All-American by
CollegeBaseballInsider.com a season ago, Hoilman hit .380 in
2009 with 19 doubles, 18 homers and 66 RBI. ETSU was 25-28 a
year ago, including 10-20 in the A-Sun and 15-11 at home.
Hoilman recently took time
to answer our questions.
First Inning – What has been the key for the
Buccaneers having such a strong start?
The key to our success so far has been coming out with
intensity and a will to win every game, while taking the season
one game at a time. We realize that we can't give any games away
if we want to put together a championship team.
Inning – How much confidence did the team receive going 2-1 the
opening weekend at The Citadel's Tournament, with wins over
Kansas State and Delaware?
The first weekend was a great start for our team. We lost
the opener to The Citadel, but then rebounded to take then-No.
34 Kansas State in the ninth as well as Delaware. Wins like
those deep into games give us both confidence that we can always
win as well as momentum heading into the next game.
Third Inning – What did it mean for the program to win two of
three from St. John's?
St. John's came to our park ranked 30th in the nation and
undefeated at the time. We knew they had a good team; however,
we knew we had an even better opportunity. After they jumped on
us in the first game, we answered back taking the second and
third games giving us the series. It was another good sign for
our team as we rebounded from a Friday night loss and still won
Fourth Inning – ETSU is 11-2 at home. What makes the Bucs so
tough at home?
Like I said before, a lot of our success is due to us coming
out to play each and every game, including the home games. Home
games especially, though, we come out to win and defend our home
field. Winning at home is important as we attempt to draw in
more and more fans each weekend.
Inning – What has been the top factor for your strong start at
Offensively, I think preparation and experience have really
helped my strong start. By preparation, I mean in the weight
room, in the cages, and also mentally preparing. I've really
gotten much stronger in the weight room over the past year due
to our new and improved strength program and the time and effort
we put in. Also, I try to get as many quality swings in as I can
between practice and on my own to improve my hitting and
maintain my swing when things are going well. Mentally, I take
things one at-bat at a time, even one pitch at a time. This
approach I think helps keep things simple and allow me to focus
on each at-bat. Experience really just helps my mentality and
anticipation in games. I know more now than I did last year
about what to expect and even how to hit. Making in-game
adjustments between at-bats also plays a big role.
Sixth Inning – You have 13 walks and 11 strikeouts. What is
the key for you to have more walks than strikeouts?
The biggest key in my walk-to-strikeout ratio thus far has
been laying off of pitches out of the strike zone. I'm
aggressive early in the count when I get good pitches to hit,
which somewhat reduces the number of times I get to two-strike
counts. With two strikes, I've learned to make a better
adjustment this year. Coach Skole teaches us to choke up, spread
out, and get up on the plate. This approach makes it easier to
battle and at least foul off tough pitches.
Seventh Inning – What was the key for getting a sweep this
past weekend in the Atlantic Sun opening series with USC
Our conference opening sweep this past weekend was big for
us. While all games are important, we especially emphasize
winning on conference weekends. This weekend against USC
Upstate, all of our starting pitchers (Chas Byrne, Bo Reeder,
and Ben Booker) gave us strong outings. Our offense also jumped
on them early in each of the three games, which makes it a
little easier to get things rolling. In the third game, when we
really needed it, our bullpen (in that game Bo Burton) really
stuffed, extending the game into extras. That allowed our
offense an additional chance at winning the game, which
eventually gave us the series sweep.
Inning – What does it mean for you to play college baseball in
It's really fun playing college baseball in my hometown. I
know a lot of the local people and get a lot of support from
around the community. It also helps put fans in the seats,
having as many local players as we do.
Ninth Inning – You are majoring in math with a concentration
in pre-med. What classes are you taking this semester?
This semester, I'm taking Technical Physics II, Principles
of Accounting II, Mathematical Computing, Graph Theory, and
Elementary Number Theory.
(photos courtesy of ETSU Media