Eagles Set To Begin New Baseball Season

Thomas Jilk

America’s pastime will return to Georgia Southern’s campus in a month, complete with a hopeful Eagles squad and a freshly enhanced J.I. Clements Stadium.

The renovations are timely, as the 2017 Sun Belt Tournament is to be played in on the Eagles home turf. Synthetic turf has been newly implemented in the bullpens and foul territory, and a new video board has been added to the stadium. The outfield wall has been pushed farther back from home plate as well.

The Eagles will look to improve on last season’s 16-14 Sun Belt record. The top three hitters in terms of batting average from last year all return for GS. These are junior OF Logan Baldwin, sophomore OF C.J. Ballard, and senior 1B Ryan Cleveland. All three batted over .285, with Baldwin leading the way at .304. Cleveland blasted 15 homers last season to lead the Eagles, as well as notching 55 RBIs.

The pitching staff returns its top three starters from last season in Chase Cohen, Evan Challenger, and Brian Eichhorn. Cohen, a sophomore from Alpharetta, led the Eagles’ starters in ERA with his 2.66 mark over 15 starts. Challenger managed a strong 3.05 ERA after leading the Eagles in wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched. Top reliever Landon Hughes returns for GS after appearing in 26 games and finishing with a 2.47 ERA and four saves.

On February 17 the Eagles begin the season with an eight-game home stand. After a three-game series with Middle Tennessee State, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia are the next two Eagle opponents.

Down the home schedule, The Citadel will visit Clements stadium on March 22. Rival, Appalachian State, visit the Statesboro for a series beginning April 13. The Sun Belt Championships begin May 23 at J.I. Clements Stadium, the first time Statesboro has hosted the Sun Belt Baseball tournament.

Coach Rodney Hennon and the Eagles have plenty of promise heading into the upcoming season. With their power performers returning and a sleek new-look stadium to boot, springtime optimism is in bloom for the 2017 baseball season.