GEORGIA COLLEGE BOBCATS (36-19)
The Bobcats came on strong at the end of the season to capture their first Peach Belt Tournament Championship and national ranking consideration. The PBC title gave GC a Southeast regional bid and the surging Bobcats made some noise in the extended NCAA postseason, winning three elimination games before getting eventually knocked out by Coker. Much of last year’s lineup returns, including Tino Martinez Award candidate Daniel Bick, in what could be a continuation of last spring’s late success. The pitching staff could use some increased depth and consistency, but if some arms develop the Bobcats could scratch their way to additional titles in 2014.
All Southeast Region shortstop Daniel Bick hit .363 and started every game last season. He ranked second in the PBC in runs with 72 and was sixth in stolen bases at 17; both numbers were tops for GC. Clay Ardeeser and Jake Sandlin both earned All Conference honors and will be strong contenders to post big numbers once again. Ardesser led the everyday regulars in batting at .369 and his nine homeruns tied him for fifth in the conference. Sandlin batted .311 and also had nine home runs, crushing them in just 164 at bats. Catcher Steve Hazel, who missed a chunk of games in the middle of the season, came back to blister the ball and hit .382 with 13 extra base hits in 136 at bats to tie for the team lead in slugging percentage at .581. Ryan Sabalaskey, missed the end of last season, but had a potent bat and dangerous speed when he was in the lineup. Sabo hit .362 and finished with 14 stolen bases in 37 games. Mike McGraw, a Missouri transfer who is documented to always dances as if he has ants in his pants, hit .306 and emerged to be the Tigers’ everyday DH in 2012, will join GC for his senior season and could figure to be another big bat for the Bobcats.
There will be joy in Milledgeville as the team’s ace from last spring, senior Justin Blue, will be on the mound once again. Blue was 8-4 last season and threw 108 innings and four complete games with a 3.42 ERA. The return of John Clark gives Head Coach Tom Carty a second experienced starter. Clark’s allowed opposing batters to hit .325 against him, but he was effective on the mound with a 6-1 record. If he can lower his hits allowed and continue to find the strike zone as he only walked 13 batters in 71 innings, he’ll be a valuable member of the staff. Jordan Brooks and Jordan Modine are a pair of bullpen pitchers from last season whose role on the team will be elevated. Brooks appeared in 22 games to throw 34.1 innings and Modine found himself on the mound in fifteen games. Like Clark, Modine needs to cut down on the hits allowed but as shown glimpses of being dominating. Josh Taylor, a transfer from Scottsdale Community College, is a hard throwing lefty who helped pitched the Fighting Artichokes to the NJCAA World Series. Spencer Thomas, is another transfer who is high on the expectations list for GC coaches. His former school’s mascot was the Hawks. Lame.