COLLEGE NOTEBOOK: Falcons in wait-and-see mode for postseason berth

With the regular season officially in the rearview mirror, UTPB head baseball coach Brian Reinke took some time to look back on the season as a whole Monday during a virtual press conference.

The Falcons lost two out of three games against St. Edward’s over the weekend that left them in 10th place in the Lone Star Conference standings.

Reinke said that it was a challenging season but saw his team develop a lot of resiliency, particularly the seniors who came back for an extra season.

“Things didn’t go very well for them personally at times and I think those were the kids that probably had the hardest time with everything,” Reinke said. “But those guys came to work every day, did their jobs and I really appreciate what they’ve done.”

UTPB is still in wait-and-see mode for the Lone Star Conference Tournament.

The conference unveiled the full eight-team bracket Sunday but with Arkansas Fort-Smith and Texas A&M-Kingsville dealing with COVID-19 issues in recent weeks, there is still the possibility the Falcons could still be tournament bound.

Athletic director Todd Dooley said that he had been in contact with other conference schools about that possibility and is awaiting test results to see whether the Falcons are done for the year.

“We’re in a little bit of a holding pattern,” Dooley said. “As with many other things this year, you can expect the unexpected and you can expect to be thrown a curveball.”

Should the Falcons continue playing, UTPB would be the No. 8 seed.

Reinke added that the chance to get extra practice in is beneficial for all involved.

“If you’re an underclassman, I think it’s a great opportunity to continue to work on your skill,” he said. “And if I was in a position of being a senior and not knowing, I would certainly keep enjoying going to the yard and getting to practice and everything else I’ve done throughout my whole career because that’s what they miss the most when they’re done.”

The tournament is slated to begin May 14 with four best-of-three series hosted on campus before shifting to a double-elimination event May 20 at the highest remaining seed.

>> ALL-CONFERENCE: Reinke also took a chance to vouch for three of his players — first baseman Nick Hernandez, infielder Jay Desoto and outfielder Garret Thonton — for all-conference and All-American recognition.

“I think all three of those guys have a chance to earn some conference honors,” Reinke said. “On the All-American side, there’s definitely some guys that put up some big numbers in this league that we’ll have to battle against for sure.”

>> LOOKING BACK: UTPB athletic director Todd Dooley took time to look back on everything that happened since he officially took over in November.

It was a busy time for the athletic department UTPB hosted 92 home events between December and May.

He brought up the highlights during that span including football’s undefeated spring season, Garrett Martin’s conference championship in diving and men’s golf recording its first individual winner in program history.

“It’s easy to point to accomplishment and we’re very proud of all our accomplishments and our student-athletes,” Dooley said. “What we say around here is that we pursue comprehensive excellence in everything and that means creating winning programs.

“That’s what we’re building but we’re not there yet. We’ve got a long way to go but we’re continuing to grow and achieve a lot.”

He added that COVID-19 testing provided a different challenge but also credited the coaches and student-athletes for stepping up and getting through the season with minimal interruptions.

“They showed a lot of maturity and a lot of poise, especially with the ever-changing landscape,” he said.”

Dooley said that he wants to continue to get in the community more in order to promote the athletic department and hopes that some of the successes on the field can help the university as a whole off of it.

“We don’t just represent Odessa or Midland or Ector County and Midland County, we represent the entire Permian Basin,” he said. “We want to be that four-year institution for this area.

“I think we’ve got to go to them and make the first move and reach across the aisle and show up on their doorstep and say ‘We’re here because you’re important to us.’”

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas