Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

February 4, 2012

Georgia Southwestern 2012 Baseball Preview

AMERICUS — Bryan McLain returns for his eighth season as head coach of the Hurricanes after leading Southwestern to its second-consecutive season with at least 25 wins, posting a mark of 27-21 in 2011.

The 'Canes welcome six returning starters in the field along with seven pitchers. There are 16 upperclassmen on the roster, including seven seniors and nine juniors.

GSW returns its top two hitters from 2011 in All-PBC selection, junior Michel Coffey (.360, 48 starts, only 17 strikeouts) and junior John Duran (.330, 43 runs scored). In addition, sophomore All-PBC selection Corey Benson (.298, .440 slugging percentage) and senior Andrew Archer (.300, 35 RBIs) are back in 2012. Senior second baseman Beau Parker looks to recapture some of his magic from 2010 when he was an All-PBC Tournament selection and hit .446. GSW finished last spring eighth out of the 12-team Peach Belt Conference with a collective team batting average of .291.

On paper, pitching took the greatest hit for GSW heading into the spring as last year's No. 2 starter Zach Whitman (4-5, 4.22 ERA, 70.1 IP) along with No. 3 starter Jody Sellars (2-5, 5.80 ERA) must be replaced off a squad that ranked ninth in the PBC with a 4.12 ERA. Out of the pen, the biggest loss for the Hurricanes is Stephen Daneman (2.54 ERA, 19 appearances). The good news is that GSW will remain strong at the top with No. 1 starter, senior Trent Franzago (2.70 ERA, .210 opponent's batting average) and senior closer Gray Carden (2.56 ERA, 25 app., .194 opp. avg.) returning to the mound this spring. In addition, the staff returns senior Matt Weaver (2-0, 3.16 ERA, eight appearances) and sophomore Hunter Thompson (3.72 ERA, eight appearances). Opponents hit .271 off GSW hurlers in 2011, which ranked sixth-lowest in the league.

There are 11 new faces on the 'Canes roster this year - a group that includes one Division I transfer, two Division II transfers, two JUCO players and six freshmen.

GSW opens the 2012 season with a double-header at home on Feb. 4 against Barry University. The nonconference portion of the road schedule is highlighted by trips to West Alabama (Feb. 11-12) and Saint Leo (Mar. 20-21). Carson-Newman comes to Americus on Apr. 28-29 to wrap up the regular season.

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