San Antonio – Championships are becoming the norm for the St. Mary’s baseball team.
This summer, four Rattlers were selected to play for the Coppell Copperheads of the Texas Collegiate League, and they added another championship to their résumé – and for a team which last summer finished dead last.
By invitation only, the Texas Collegiate League gets the best of the best in college baseball, from across all states and all divisions. St. Mary’s pitchers Kyle Bumpas (So., El Paso, Texas), Carl O’Neal (Jr., San Antonio), Skye Severns (Sr., Claremont, Calif.), and outfielder/first basemen Tyler Migl (Sr., San Antonio) were not only selected into the prestigious league but excelled while they were there.
They also proved that winning is a habit by helping the Copperheads claim the TCL Championship with a 21-13 record.
Last season, the St. Mary’s baseball team won a slew of honors. The Rattlers won the Heartland Conference Championship, were ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation and won 82 percent of their games, the best winning percentage in school history.
“We had a good year last year and good stats so we got (our players) up there (to play for the Copperheads),” said a visibly proud Charlie Migl, athletics director and head baseball coach for St. Mary’s.
The league hosts over 60 games throughout the summer, featuring heavy hitters from Big 12 schools including Texas A&M, Texas Tech and the University of Kansas. Needless to say, the Rattlers gained a wealth of experience and growth from playing in the Texas Collegiate League, besides just the championship, of course.
Similar to their success last season in gaining honors for the Rattlers, Bumpas, O’Neal, Severns and Migl did the same for the Copperheads.
“Those guys were the backbone of the team,” Migl said.
Overall, O’Neal finished second in the league in wins, had the third-best ERA of 2.23 and finished sixth in strikeouts with 51. O’Neal has learned a lot from pitching for the Copperheads, facing all types of batters from across the nation.
“The main thing is, it got me to challenge batters because it’s always a different bat,” said O’Neal, a First-Team All-Heartland Conference selection last season when he went 7-3 with a 2.70 ERA and 77 strikeouts for the Rattlers. “It got me in a different mindset than I’m used to.”
O’Neal stepped off the pitcher’s mound for a few games and had his hand in the outfield. His “ace” status as a pitcher rubbed off on him as a fielder, as he snagged a ball that won a game, making him even better-rounded as a pitcher.
“I got to feel what the outfielders feel so that was a good experience,” he said.
O’Neal also sees the benefit of pitching with his two other fellow Rattler pitchers for the upcoming season.
“Seeing how all three of us did so well this summer is just more confidence going into the year to come out there and dominate,” he said.
The Rattler-turned-Copperhead-turned third best pitcher in the Texas Collegiate League, O’Neal’s experience in the league has made him a better pitcher that should help St. Mary’s bring home another stellar season next spring.
“This whole summer was everything I expected and more,” he said.
Tyler Migl tore up the stats as well, finishing fifth in RBIs for the league with 34, and was named the Texas Collegiate League Player of the Week and selected for the All-TCL team.
Migl gained a lot personally through his experience playing for the Copperheads.
“I learned a lot about myself,” he said. “You learn how much you love the game, you learn how to struggle and you learn how to succeed though struggle.”
While he takes away personal growth, his summer play will also benefit him athletically, as Migl’s selection as Player of the Week as a Copperhead will transfer over as a Rattler.
“It definitely gave me a confidence boost for this upcoming season,” he said.
Migl also has a surefire confidence boost from being selected for the All-TCL team, meaning the league considered him among the best of the Texas Collegiate League that included the upper-division Big 12 players.
But Migl’s no stranger to the game of success in the field or at bat; he holds the third-place rank in the St. Mary’s record book for career putouts with 958 and is coming off a season in which he was named the Heartland Conference Player of the Year as a junior. There’s no doubt that Migl’s personal and athletic growth on the Copperheads will assist him in the field as a Rattler.
Severns also showed his dedication and excitement for the game of baseball and for the Copperheads, as he left for the championship game after his first day of fall classes at St. Mary’s.
“I just wanted to [go play] because I really enjoyed being on the team and had a lot of fun,” he said.
Severns pitched 51.2 innings for the Copperheads with an ERA of 2.79, performing even better than when he maintained a 4.01 ERA over 60.2 innings with the Rattlers last season.
Severns knows his improvement as a Copperhead pitcher will transfer to the Rattlers’ mound.
“It’s just going to help me be prepared,” he said. “A lot more innings I got to throw, a lot more batters faced; it just gives me more experience. So overall I think it’ll be good results for the season to come.”
Not only did his pitching arm strengthen, but so did the camaraderie between him and his fellow Rattlers.
“I felt like the four of us built a pretty strong relationship playing with each other throughout the summer,” he said.
He left for the championship game after his first day of class, improved his ERA, and made bonds along the way. Severns’ motivation for himself and the Rattlers is plain and simple: “I love the game. I enjoy being around it,” he said.
Another one of St. Mary’s elite, Bumpas, a left-handed pitcher, was selected by the Texas Collegiate League and became a Copperhead. Bumpas made 17 appearances last season as a Rattler, pitching 37.2 innings and racking up seven saves en route to being named Second-Team All-Heartland Conference.
Bumpas, too, knows his temporary stint as a Copperhead will only improve his play on the St. Mary’s diamond.
“That’s what I got out of it more than anything was my confidence level is really [high] this year,” he said. “I just hope to take what I learned this summer to the season.”
The relief pitcher that relieved the Rattlers 16 times last season shared how his Rattlers’ teammates experience on the St. Mary’s baseball team helped the Copperheads bring home a championship.
“St. Mary’s doesn’t lose and I am not used to losing, so I think that that definitely helped our summer team because we were so used to winning,” Bumpas said.
Bumpas is proud of his time as a Copperhead but is glad to be back in his Rattler gear.
“I look forward to this upcoming season and hope to take off where the summer was,” he said. “Just being from St. Mary’s, we’re just used to winning now.”
This summer was mere preparation for O’Neal, Migl, Severns and Bumpas. Their excellence as Copperheads suggests another successful and exciting season ahead for St. Mary’s.
The four star-studded players have obviously learned from their past here at St. Mary’s, and in Charlie Migl’s words, “Them going and winning just goes to show you that winning is a habit.”
It’s certainly the norm for these four.