BY: Chris Nelson
The Kennesaw State University Club Baseball team kicks off the 2012 season with three games against archrival Georgia Southern University, which is expected to be a thrilling series; KSU swept the season series last year.
The 2011 season was very successful for KSU. After only two years in existence, the team reached the regional semi-finals against a tough Florida team. Outfield and hitting coach John Curry said that one of the team’s’ goals was to “improve on last year by improving our pitching.”
The team seems to be doing that already, with three more pitchers on the roster than they had in 2011; starting pitchers Mike Bruns, Sam Mireles, and Chris Nelson are the new additions to the team this year.
“Last year all of our arms were tired,” Curry said, “so having more pitchers will help us save arms when we get deep into the season.”
There have been questions regarding the Owls’ offensive production, after averaging only 3.1 runs during their first six games.
However, pitching coach Sam Mireles said, “We have looked very solid in practice, and our goal is to win it all this year.”
The Owls set their sights high for this season, after coming so close to a National Club Baseball Association World Series birth in 2011. The coaching staff and players have created camaraderie during their weekend-long road trips, and everyone has seemed to buy in to the system that the coaching staff has created.
While the team has hitters that are able to hit the baseball out of the park, Head Coach Harrison Hardwick plans on using small ball tactics to get the job done. Bunt and steals are what he will use to win baseball games.
The team will face some very tough competition. University of Alabama and Georgia-Gwinnett College are the two teams in the conference that the Owls know will give them very close games, and Furman University along with University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will not be cake walks either.
The Owls feature a strong pitching staff, with four players throwing 80 mph or faster. Unlike many teams, the Owls also feature a deep pitching staff, with a total of nine guys able to throw off the bump.
Injuries have plagued the team in recent years, which have included rotator cuff injuries as well as normal wear and tear that rendered much of the 2011 squad unable to play. The start of 2012 has shown little improvement in that regard, with three pitchers already having to recover from injuries; while two other players have sustained minor injuries as well.
The season for the Owls looks to be a challenging one. Injuries and stiff competition will lead to a thrilling finish to the season in just a few months time. Although the Owls are expected to win their division, they must get past even more difficult regional opponents if they are able to get to that point. There is no doubt the Owls will look for a World Series berth, and a championship. Only time will tell if they are up to the task.