Alabama Southern Baseball Opens Practice for 2018 Season
The Eagles of Alabama Southern officially took to the field for the first time last Thursday to prepare for the 2008 season. After a rigorous off-season conditioning program the players and coaches are eager to see live pitching, hitting and fielding.
This the third season for coach Scot Sealy whose two-year record is a stellar 84-27. Both years have ended with a lofty national ranking for his Eagles. The 2007 season saw ASCC reach an all time high national ranking of No. 6 and win the Southern Division of the AJCCC for the first time in school history.
The biggest question mark entering the season will be how to replace two 11-game winners from last year’s pitching staff. D.D. Hanks, now at South Alabama and Jonathan Stephens, now with Samford, earned exactly half of last year’s school record 44 wins in a season.
The Eagles have three proven pitchers returning in starters Kevin Johnson (6-2) and Spence McDonald (5-1) and 10-save reliever Tyler Minto. Another sophomore, lefthander Jarret Dunnam had 2 wins and a save to his credit.
Freshman prospects from the mound include Daphne’s Chris Peacock, Justin Oehrle of Pensacola-Pine Forest, Kai Archbell of Pace and Tyler Glass from Sweet Water. Red shirt freshman Ryan Harrison of Fairhope will have a good look as a possible closer.
Only five position players return but most of the extra base power moved on to the next level. The right side of the infield appears to be solid with Josh Pitts returning at shortstop with his .435 batting average. Joey Archer had a good freshman year at third base and brings back a .364 batting average.
The only outfielder with experience from last season is Chris Murrill who is versatile enough to play any of the positions as well as first base in the infield. Taylor White, a Leroy graduate, has nailed down the centerfield job. Coach Sealy said of White, “He has the potential to make it to the highest level in baseball.” Several others are competing for the final outfield position.
Catching should be a strong point for ASCC because of the return of starter Jason Dennis from last year and the addition of two strong transfer candidates. Justin Wood came from the University of West Florida where he led their conference in doubles and Carl Della Torre transferred in from defending national JUCO champion Chipola CC.
Assessing his Eagles before the first pitch of the season, coach Sealy said, “With 17 new faces on our 25 man roster, we’ll have to learn a lot about ourselves as we play. With games against Chipola, Shelton State, Calhoun and Meridian before we even get to our tough southern division, our last year’s record will be hard to duplicate.
“We are going to have to play small ball. We’ll have manufacture runs with base hits, bunts and steals because we have less power but more speed than we have ever had.”
Alabama Southern has exhibition games scheduled at the University of Mobile on January 26 and at Birmingham Southern on January 27. The first regular season game will be a home single game against Marion on January 29 at 1p.m.