The inaugural season for the Texas A&M-Texarkana Eagles' baseball team gets under way this Friday, January 29.The Eagles will open the season with a double-header against Evangel University of Springfield, Mo. First pitch is slated for 2PM at George Dobson Field in Spring Lake Park.Head coach Steve Jones brings 28 years of coaching experience to the NCAA Division II level.

"The response to bringing baseball to A&M-Texarkana has been so overwhelming,” Coach Jones said. “I have been coaching for a long time and have never seen the tremendous enthusiasm that we have received from both the campus community and the city of Texarkana. The players have been involved in events on campus as well as in the community, and the response they receive is just amazing to me.”

Coach Jones came to Texarkana from New Mexico Highlands University, in Las Vegas, New Mexico. He was the Head Assistant Coach at the University of California-Davis for seven years and at Cal State University-Chico for four years prior to joining the NMHU coaching staff.

Coach Jones’ teams averaged over 30 wins per season in his 17 years at NMHU along with 12 straight winning seasons and six trips to the NCAA Division II Regional Tournament.

“The addition of baseball to our intercollegiate programs has brought a renewed sense of excitement to the university,” Athletics Director Michael Galvan said.

“The interest level was enough to bring in over 60 student-athletes who would try and compete for about four dozen spots on the roster for the spring 2016 season, and the talent level has been exceptional.

More importantly, these are students who would never have attended A&M-Texarkana otherwise. Now, they are sitting in our classrooms being instructed by quality professors who are experts in their field of study.”

Cade Davis, a junior pitcher and outfielder from Lubbock who spent two years at Midland College and played in the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., said he transferred to A&M-Texarkana because he saw an opportunity to leave a legacy at the university.

“When we look back on this year, we will know we were the part of the first baseball team that ever stepped foot on a field for A&M-Texarkana,” he said. “We’re like a big family – a family away from home. I love it.”

Shaquille “Shaq” Theus, a junior from Kansas City, Mo., who spent two years at Hesston College in Kansas, agreed.

“I feel cemented here,” he said. “I feel like we’re a part of the school’s history and that’s something that can never be taken away from us. I love the philosophy here. It almost makes you feel like you’re legendary. Everybody will always remember this experience.”

Theus said Coach Jones and the entire coaching staff stress the importance of giving back to the Texarkana community. Players recently had a clean-up day at Spring Lake Park, volunteered for the Live United Bowl benefiting the United Way of Greater Texarkana, and assisted Susan G. Komen Texarkana in placing pink ribbons around town to promote breast cancer awareness.

“We have a tight-knit group, and we’re going to give it our all. We enjoy helping out in the community and look forward to the community coming out to support us. Without the community’s support, a baseball game might as well be a practice,” Theus said.

For more information and the 2016 schedule, visit tamuteagles.com. Game admission is $5 for adults and $3 for youth ages 6-17. Children ages 5 and younger will be admitted at no charge.