March 23, 2010


Nine Innings with Paul Hoilman

By Phil Stanton Co-Founder


East 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 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.

Second 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 the series.

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.

Fifth Inning – What has been the top factor for your strong start at the plate?
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 Upstate?
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.

Eighth Inning – What does it mean for you to play college baseball in your hometown?
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 Relations Office)