UTSA baseball golf fundraiser

UTSA Baseball Hosts Annual ‘Birdies Fore Baseball’ Golf Fundraiser at Canyon Springs Golf Club

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The UTSA Baseball team recently hosted their annual Birdies Fore Baseball Golf Fundraiser. This exciting and competitive event brings together former and current players, parents, and donors to kickstart the season, with all proceeds helping supplement the team’s budget for the year. Despite the recent cold snap that has made its way through South Texas forcing an early start time, nearly everyone still showed up for what Coach Hallmark mentioned as a “terrific” event.

For the past few years, the fundraiser has been held at Canyon Springs Golf Club. It is a 4-person scramble style, with par max on each hole. It’s a style of play inviting even a sub-par (to put it nicely) golfer like myself to participate. The event also features donation games on sporadic holes, door prizes, gifts, and an appealing online silent auction. On more than one occasion, Coach Hallmark made it a point to mention his wife, Jada, as an integral part of the fundraiser’s success, which, looking on, was conducted without a hitch. 

When asked his thoughts on the event, Coach Hallmark said, “Kudos to my wife, who runs this whole thing, basically by herself…she adapted and adjusted forty-eight hours ago when they told us we needed to [start early] because of the freeze tonight. I’m super grateful for all the golfers. Every team made it but one, with the time change. It was great, and we raised a lot of money.”

When the golfing wrapped for the day, Coach Hallmark took a few moments to share remarks with those in attendance. He opened by thanking current and former moms of the baseball team and event sponsors, who included Pedrotti’s Ranch, Matthew James of San Antonio Elite Chiropractic, Blake Brannen, Brett Parish, the Smith Family from El Toro Auto group, and April Ancira. 

Members of the UTSA Baseball team helped facilitate the event by running donation holes, interacting with donors and former players, and some even golfing themselves. Hector Rodriguez, who is in his first year playing for UTSA after transferring from Galveston CC, said the event was a lot of fun. Hector mentioned that he enjoyed “meeting former players and hearing stories from past years’ events.”

I also had the opportunity to talk with UTSA Pitcher Braden Davis. While Davis doesn’t golf much himself, when asked who his favorite professional player to watch was, he said, “Being from Austin, Jordan Spieth is my guy.” One consensus between Hector and Braden was that teammate Braylon Owens (Pitcher, JR.) is not only one of the more competitive players on the teams but also someone to keep an eye on their scorecard. Other names mentioned for those who like to spend time on the course included Ryan Ward (Pitcher, SR.) and Ryan Beaird (Pitcher, JR.) Beaird was also included in those who to keep a close eye on their scorecard. 

Those who follow the program closely are likely aware of the significant roster turnover for the baseball team going into the 2024 season. While Hallmark and his staff will look to replace key members of both the field and pitching staff, twenty-three of the forty-man roster will feature new faces. Some of that number is also due to the NCAA increasing the roster size to forty to account for those still with extended eligibility and the MLB draft being reduced in the number of rounds. 

When asked how important this event is to helping the Roadrunner Baseball program, Coach Hallmark said, “It’s critical. We have a solid budget, but there are always things that we need on top of that. When I first got here (UTSA) anything that we didn’t already have on hand, we had to wait a year to buy [it]. We’re in a place now that because of this golf tournament we don’t have to do that anymore.” Hallmark provided specific examples of these items they can buy, like analytic software that helps the coaches break down where the batters are consistently hitting the ball. This provides a “peace of mind” for Hallmark and his staff that they can get the resources they need, thanks to the support of many. 

When asked which of the coaching staff is considered to have the best golf game, Coach Hallmark laughed and replied, “You’re talking about the best of the worst here.” He did settle on assistant coach Mikey Bielamowicz as the most competitive. He didn’t hesitate to mention that Coach Aguayo was the one to have his scorecard checked after a round, but he did follow up that his might need to be monitored as well. It was all in good fun, though, as Hallmark had a big smile and joyous laugh when answering the questions. 

The UTSA Baseball team is coming off their second consecutive 38-win season. They have yet to reach forty wins in program history. Moving to a new conference will present its challenges regarding opponents at the top of the ladder. Perched at the top for now and coming to the Bird Bath in mid-March is perennial favorite ECU. Returning fielders Matt King, Caleb Hill, Isaiah Walker, Tye Odom, and James Taussig will lead the newcomers, and a veteran pitching staff that includes Ryan Ward, Drake Smith, Uli Quiroga, and Ruger Riojas will look to the same on the mound. Newcomers like Robert Orloski, Brock Henning, Conor Myles, Hector Rodriguez, and Zane Spinn will look to build on their Fall success. With the start of the season less than one month away, there is much to be excited about as the ‘Runners prepare for UT-Arlington to open the season at home. 

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