ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – College baseball season is just around the corner and UTPB is preparing for its first season under new head coach Gabe Grinder.

Not unfamiliar with program rebuilds, Grinder was hired by UTPB in June 2022 after helping lead Ottawa University’s (KS) program to successes it had not seen in decades.

Grinder pioneered a massive overhaul in the offseason with a new coaching staff, a majority-new team and new upgrades to UTPB’s baseball facilities. Of the 43 men on the Falcons’ 2023 roster, only 12 appeared on last season’s roster.

A major focal point for Grinder in the off-season was improving the Falcons on the mound, an area that had been lacking in previous seasons.

“We went out and addressed it by finding strike-throwers. We found a lot of strike-throwers throughout the summer in recruiting and then we brought in three more arms over the break that’ll help out as well so we definitely addressed the pitching,” Grinder said.

With the high volume of personnel changes and being mid-rebuild, Grinder defined success this season as competing at a high level in the Lone Star Conference.

“We want to be in the fight every single game. I think that is the best thing you can ask out of this group, is learning how to win and how to compete at a high level,” Grinder said. “I think if we can do that, that’s a real change from where we were last year as a program and then you just continue to incrementally build on that.”

Roden Field has seen multiple upgrades in the offseason, aimed at truly making it field like a “home” field. The infield was redone, the outfield fence was rebuilt and a new bullpen was built.

“The field here on campus… that’s home. That’s where we’re going to play and we’re going to make that better instead of continuing to go down to the RockHounds and spending our money that way, we’re going to stay at home and make our facility better and make it a place to play that guys are proud of,” Grinder said.

The Falcons’ season begins on the road on Feb. 3 against St. Mary’s. UTPB’s first home series is one week later, Feb. 10-12 as the Falcons host Lubbock Christian in a four-game series.