It’s the middle of winter. Christmas trees are back in the attic, 2010 is in the rearview mirror, and the New Year and semester are starting to stretch their legs. That can only mean one thing, Blazer baseball is back.
For VSU head baseball Coach Greg Guilliams, it means trying to build upon last year’s success with an almost entirely different team.
Guillams enters his fourth year as head coach of the Blazer baseball team, and comes off a season in which he led the Blazers to a 43-17 record and a Gulf South Conference Championship.
The Blazers return two position players, five pitchers, and welcome 18 newcomers. The two position returnees, senior outfielder Antonio Clark, and senior catcher Josh Vining will attempt to fill the offensive void left by the losses of last years’ All-Americans Brandon Decker and Clayton Cain.
In 2010, the dynamic duo combined for 41 home runs and 154 runs batted in.
“With the loss of power bats like Decker and Cain we will need to be more creative offensively to score runs,” Guilliams said of his offense. “Steal, bunt, hit & run more, but our philosophy remains the same. Get a big inning.”
Helping to create that offense will be new additions, Georgia transfer, catcher Christian Glisson, outfielder and third basemen J.P. Willner from New Mexico State, shortstop Joel Cardinal also from New Mexico State and former Gulf Coast Community College, All-Conference standout, outfielder Cameron Graves.
Other standout additions to the VSU Blazer baseball team include: outfielder/first basemen Tyler Reimer (Gulf Coast CC), righty Jeff Teague (Oakland University), and southpaw Kevin Rogers (San Joaquin Delta JC). Anchoring the Blazer pitching rotation will be the returning right-hander, ace Brett Kennedy.
Helping the first team All-Conference senior will be returnees Tanner Fudge, Tyler Wooten, and setup man Cason Mobley. Coming off Tommy John surgery and looking to return to his earlier form, is closer Bud Fuller. The righty’s presence in the bullpen will be a key part of the team’s success.
“Our game plan is to have a lead at the end of the game and give the ball to Bud Fuller as much as possible,” Guilliams said.
Helping with that game plan will be utility man Chaz Bagwell. Bagwell comes off a hip surgery last year and aims to reach the potential that he showed in his impressive freshman campaign.
Mark the calendars for Feb. 1, which is the day the Blazers will begin their defense of their conference championship. If this season is anything like last, then pull out the shorts and flip-flops because things will be heating up real soon.
The Blazers are ranked No. 14 according to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and predicted to win the Gulf South Conference based on the league coaches’ poll.