By Kevin Connell
The baseball team’s fall practice has begun and the excitement is running high.
As baseball players, the fall is when we get ready for the season, which begins in February. We compete for positions and work on the areas of our game that need it. We are coming off of an impressive season in 2013, finishing second at the Southern Conference Tournament in Greeneville.
We have 26 of the 28 roster players from last season returning as we lost two great players from last year’s team to the Major League Baseball draft. Catcher Joe Jackson was drafted in the 5th round by the Texas Rangers and starting pitcher Austin Pritcher was drafted in the 19th round by the Detroit Tigers.
Jackson was not only a great play caller but he was also the heart of our offensive unit. Jackson batted .386 in his senior year while displaying an astonishing outing in the tournament going 10 for 13 and reaching base 17 times in only four games.
Pritcher was a key pitcher for us the last several years. He was our Friday starter and had a record of 8-3 his senior year. He did a great job of pitching to outs and that were evident with his 2.99 ERA.
With the experienced players coming back from last season, we are looking forward to starting the season and showing everyone throughout the conference that this is our year. We are starting one fifth-year player in Hughston Armstrong, three juniors and four seniors who have had a major role in the great seasons the Bulldogs have had in the past.
The pitching rotation is full of experience with senior Logan Cribb, two left-handed junior pitchers, James Reeves and me, and a freshman All-American from last year, closer Skylar Hunter.
Our motto is “Defense Wins Championships,” and this year we have more than defense as we have the offense that is capable of producing runs.
Fred Jordan is going into his 23rd season as the coach with more than 700 career wins, all at The Citadel. We want to win him another Southern Conference championship and return to the College World Series.
The 2014 season opens on February 14, when we host the Charleston Crab House Tournament in a three-game round robin against Delaware, West Virginia and 2013 College World Series participant Louisville.
The season concludes in May with the Southern Conference Tournament that will once again be held at Riley Park.