by Chris Webb
After an exciting 7-5 win against North Georgia in last Sunday’s home opener, Valdosta State (1-0) is set to take the field this weekend for a three-game series as they welcome the Paine College Lions (0-2) to Billy Grant Field.
Action will begin with a 1 p.m. double header on Saturday with game 3 scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. as well.
This will be the third-straight year the Blazers have matched up against the small school located in Augusta, Georgia.
VSU is (6-0) in the series while outscoring the Lions 62-5.
VSU once again enters the year with relatively high expectations and is projected to finish fourth in the always-competitive Gulf South Conference.
Led by all-GSC players Bryant Hayman, Mike Reed and Michael Gouge, the Blazers offense looks to be in good hands for yet another year despite losing senior lead-off man and all-GSC second baseman Matthew Fears from last year’s squad.
The problem, however, for VSU last year wasn’t the bats—it was the pitching.
Nagging injuries was a nuisance all year for the pitching staff and was a huge part of the team’s high 4.75 ERA.
VSU Head Coach Greg Guilliams will look to get that number lowered this year and will have to rely on four fresh faces in the rotation to do it.
Last year’s bright spot, ace Dom DeMasi was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in last summer’s MLB draft and is now pitching for their minor league affiliate.
Even with the loss of DeMasi there are high hopes and expectations for the new group of guys coming in.
Kyle Andre, Mitchell Cody, Austin Glorius and lefty Kellan Bailey are expected to make up the rotation for this year’s team.
Despite none having any Division II experience Guilliams feels as long as the new group can stay healthy it has the chance to be a strong point for this team.
All four will be looking to get the season started on the right foot when they toe the rubber to face Paine.
A very young and inexperienced Lions team finished last year (15-28) but showed signs of dramatic improvement over the course of the year finishing with a (10-9) record in conference play.
Head Coach Kerby Marshall and Lions remain young this year with only four seniors on this year’s roster and will have to rely on them if they hope to build on the late success of last year.
Senior second baseman Avery Wilson leads the Lions offense after batting .322 with 14 stolen bases in 2014; PC will need a big weekend from him if they expect to compete with the big bats of the Blazers.