With spring sports officially beginning practice last week, I thought it would be appropriate to give my predictions for the teams that will be competing for the famed red and black this upcoming spring.
Baseball: Although the Blazers lost a ton of talented players from last year’s team, including sluggers Brandon Decker, who was drafted by the LA Angels, and Clayton Cain, who combined for over 40 homeruns, VSU is looking poised for another successful season under head coach Greg Guilliams.
Guilliams and his assistant coach, his brother Todd Guilliams, have recruited yet another stellar group of players and look ready to make a run at a national championship. You might not see the homerun totals that have been posted in the past, but the Blazers should be in the hunt for it all this season. After all, the Blazers return their top pitcher from last year in Brett Kennedy, along with adding some highly touted pitching prospects, which could make a splash in the MLB draft this summer.
VSU also added several top bat, including UGA transfer Christian Glisson, who batted .342 for the Bulldogs last season. Prediction: Since Guilliams took over the Blazer program before the start of the 2008 season, VSU has averaged just less than 40 wins per season. I expect the Blazers to top 40 wins this season and compete for all kinds of titles this season.
Softball: Maybe one of the most exciting teams this season. The Lady Blazers lost in the national championship game by one run last year and lost just two players, Alyssa Shirey and Stephanie Carlson. With nearly the entire team returning, head coach Thomas Macera has to feel comfortable about his team making a run towards St. Joseph, Mo., again. Along with the talent he has returning, Macera has added several new players, including Sam Posey, who is the younger sister of San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey. Along with Posey, Macera has added several more pitchers to go along with his dynamic duo of Margaret Carter and Holly Satterfield, who dominated the opponent last year. Prediction: Along with the baseball team, this team is poised to make a trip back to the national championship. If the Lady Blazers can put it together like in recent years, look for them to win 50 plus games.
Tennis: Each and every year, head coach John Hansen has had his teams competing on the national scale. Note the 2006 national championship he has under his belt. Last year was another successful year for the tennis teams, as both secured Gulf South Conference championships. Not to mention the men lost in the national championship. Prediction: With so many talented players coming back, and a successful fall semester behind them, the tennis teams are poised for many great things. Is it too bold to say national championship? If they can get by the tough competition of Rollins College and Barry, the defending champions, then VSU should be in good shape.
Golf: Even after losing an All-American golfer in Chesley Gunn, the VSU golf team is still sitting pretty, despite being a young team. Head Coach Jared Purvis will feature four freshman and two sophomores this season, but good things are in line for VSU, who posted top 10 finishes in tournaments this fall. Plus, it doesn’t hurt when you’re playing golf in Hawaii. Last season, the Blazers were ranked throughout much of the year in the top 25. Prediction: Much like last year, the golf should find them ranked in the top 25 throughout much of the year. With a young team, Coach Purvis could shock some people by putting up some low scores and even competing for the GSC title.