Paul Hoilman built a reputation as a serious power hitter during his days at East Tennessee State. That hasn’t changed since he moved up to professional baseball.
Hoilman just finished his rookie season with the Boise Hawks, and he hit a club-record 17 home runs and made the Northwest League all-star team. The Hawks were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs Tuesday night.
After a five-hour bus road back to Boise, Hoilman was looking forward to getting on a plane today and coming home to Johnson City to unwind.
“There’s been a lot of ups and down this season,” he said Wednesday, “but it’s been a great learning experience and lot of fun. I’m going to come back and rest a little bit; I’ll probably be in JC until spring training.”
The first baseman, who was drafted in the 19th round by the Chicago Cubs in June, isn’t sure where he’ll play next season. Peoria, Ill., is a likely possibility.
He hit .252 in Boise and drove in 44 runs in 71 games, which was fifth in the league. He also drew 59 walks and struck out 105 times in 246 at-bats.
The big number, however, was the home runs.
“That’s the one thing I did do well this summer, and I’m proud of that,” he said. “I’m thankful things went the way things went. There aren’t a lot of guys who do that in their first year of pro ball, hitting with the wood bats.”
Hoilman set career records for homers, doubles and total bases in the Atlantic Sun Conference. He owns at least a dozen of the ETSU single-season and career marks.
Going out west and adjusting to the lifestyle of a pro baseball player was certainly a change of pace.
“It’s tougher than I thought it would be, to be honest,” he said. “There’s a lot of travel, a lot of late nights. It’s an everyday thing, working at least eight hours a day with very few days off – and for very little play. In A-ball, there’s not much money to be made.
“I’m hoping people higher up in the organization will see what I’ve done and appreciate my power potential. I just want to work on getting better all-around.”
Hoilman, a Science Hill product, hopes to spend some of his time in the offseason giving hitting lessons.
“I want to share the knowledge I’ve got with some younger kids,” he said.
n The men’s soccer team blossomed into a conference champion last fall, and by all indications it will make a spirited title defense.
The Bucs are already receiving votes in the national polls in the wake of their 3-0 start this season; they are ranked No. 19 this week by Soccer America.
Coach Scott Calabrese, who has built the program from scratch in four years, says it’s just another sign of respect.
“Especially when you start to get into the national polls early in the season,” Calabrese said Wednesday. “It shows that your peers think your program is progressing and establishing itself as a quality program. Of course, the polls at the end of the season are more important because they’re a gauge of your whole body of work.
“The recognition now is for good wins in tough environments, but it’s nothing we can focus on. We have to keep improving.”
The Bucs have yet to give up a goal and are coming off a 2-0 victory Sunday at Marshall. And that came on the heels of a dramatic 1-0 win at 24th-ranked North Carolina-Greensboro, in which Alesi Osorio banged home the game’s only goal with 43 seconds left in double overtime.
Osorio was named the A-Sun player of the week on Tuesday.
“We have certainly started well in terms of going on the road against very difficult teams and getting results,” said Calabrese. “Each game so far has been a progression in terms of how we’ve played.”
The Bucs will try to keep the momentum going this weekend when they play in the Stihl Soccer Classic in Norfolk, Va. They face host Old Dominion on Friday night, then tackle No. 14 William & Mary on Sunday.
n Murry Bartow had hoped all summer to add another player to his basketball roster once school started, but that didn’t happen.
“We did not use that last scholarship,” Bartow said Wednesday. “It’s just the way things fell. I’ve tried to never panic in recruiting, and if we could have filled it with the right player, we certainly would have. Based on circumstances, we didn’t use it.
“That can turn out to be a positive. We’ve got a scholarship in our pocket for the next class, or if a transfer situation comes along. Sometimes these things work out for the best.”
So the Bucs move on with a 13-man roster, including walk-on Todd Halvorsen, a former Dobyns-Bennett player who had been attending school at Tennessee. Four are newcomers – guards Marcus Dubose and Rashawn Rembert, and forwards Lester Wilson and John Walton. Dubose is a junior-college transfer.
The team also regains the services of three redshirts – forward Tommy Hubbard and guards Jarvis Jones and Ryan Woumn.
Bartow and his staff are currently getting a feel for the players in offseason workouts.
“We’re hard at work, doing all we can really do,” he said. “We’ve got eight hours a week, and two of those can be on the floor. Other than that, it’s just lifting and conditioning.”
n The volleyball team found the going tough last weekend at the MTSU Blue Raider Bash.
The Lady Bucs dropped all four of their matches – the first two in shutouts against Middle Tennessee State and Missouri, and the last two by 3-1 decisions against Austin Peay and Florida International.
They stand at 3-5 overall heading into a tournament this weekend at Chattanooga. Their opponents there will be North Carolina-Asheville, Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech.
The Lady Bucs don’t play their first home match until South Carolina Upstate visits for the conference opener on Sept. 20.
n There likely won’t be any more days this season like last Sunday for the women’s soccer team.
The Lady Bucs crushed Alabama A&M 10-0, setting a program record for goals. Sophomore Molly Vaughn led the rout by scoring three times, and Genna Peterson and Kayla White each scored twice.
The victory was the third straight for the Lady Bucs after a pair of losses to open the season. They’ll be on the road this weekend for a tournament at Miami of Ohio. They face Wright State on Friday night and Miami on Sunday.
n The new athletic director at Illinois State has connections to ETSU.
Gary Friedman worked as an administrator here for five years in the early 1990s, serving as director of marketing and promotions before moving up to assistant athletic director for external operations.
Friedman, an Illinois native, spent the last 10 years as senior associate AD for development at Louisville. He began his duties at Illinois State on June 1.