Junior catcher Mark Zagunis looks to be one of those leaders. Zagunis was one of three Hokies to start all 62 games last year and after batting .344 in 2012, he hit .343 last year. He saw an increase in many offensive statistics, including doubles, triples and home runs, but now, with vacancies left by the likes of Chad Pinder, Andrew Rash and Tyler Horan, he figures to be the primary source of pop in the lineup.
“We lost a lot of great players last year,” Zagunis said, after ditching the head of his gorilla costume. “They’re going to be tough to replace, but we’re going to be a different style team than last year. We had a lot of power hitters and a lot of good players still playing at the next level, but I think we’ll be OK. We just got to fill some holes and keep working hard.”
More than just the tangibles, the Hokies will look to Zagunis to be a leader in 2013. And he’s ready to accept the role with open arms.
“I definitely have to step up as one of the leaders. Coach Mason expects it and so do all my teammates. Having players like Andrew Rash and Chad Pinder in front of me to lead the way and show me how to be a leader really helped.”
Filling the vacancies left by highly-productive players will not be easy for the Hokies who went 40-22 last year and 15-14 in the ACC, but it’ll be necessary if the Hokies want to go farther than last year.
After reaching the ACC Championship Game and hosting a regional tournament, which Mason said is already helping him on the recruiting trail, the team finally feels they earned the national recognition they deserved all year.
“That’s what you want. You want to be on a national map, but there is a little more pressure when you do well,” Zagunis said, while moving out of the way of a foul ball hit by a bunny. “There’s always going to be pressure, but there isn’t a better feeling than being in that ACC Championship Game at Durham or hosting a regional.”
His battery mate echoed the remarks.
“I definitely think hosting got us on the map,” Markey said. “It seemed like earlier no one was saying our name, and we had to host a regional before people realized where Virginia Tech was.”