Claflin Baseball Host Virginia State In 2020 Season Opener Panthers Begin Peach Belt Era

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Claflin Sports Information

 

Orangeburg, S.C. – The Claflin University baseball team will open the 2020 season with a new conference.

After playing as an independent last season (2019) after the previous 10 in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), Claflin will now challenge for the Peach Belt Conference championship along with 11 other teams from the South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.

The Panthers will play a 33-game PBC schedule with 15 of those games in Orangeburg. The conference home slate includes Lander University (Feb. 14-16), Francis Marion University (Mar. 6-8), Young Harris College (Mar. 20-22), Flagler College (Apr. 10-11) and Augusta University (Apr. 17-19).

The remaining conference series will be on the road, North Georgia College, UNC Pembroke, Georgia Southwestern State University, Columbus State University, USC-Aiken and Georgia College.

“We’re excited about the upcoming season of playing in tough and competitive Peach Belt Conference,” Claflin Coach James Randall said. “The Peach Belt is good from top to bottom and we want that tradition.”

With the challenge of facing several new teams, Coach Randall hopes his team gets off to a good start like last season. In that season, the Panthers won 12 of their first 16 games and finished with a 25-18 record.

Returning from that unit are two of the team’s most productive players in junior first baseman Eric McElveen and senior Gerardric “Rod” Dobbs.

McElveen batted .366 with four home runs and 35 RBIs. He also collected 52 hits with nine of them being doubles. Dobbs, the Black College Nines Small School Division Player of the Year and Independent Tournament All-Tournament Selection, also batted above the .300 mark with a .363, averaged that included 52 hits, five home runs, 45 RBIs and seven doubles. Both players scored 37 times each.

Jalen Sprull, a senior outfielder, will be another key returnee as he batted .286 and collected 32 hits last season.

Junior left-hander Makai Holloway is the top returning pitcher. Last season, Holloway compiled a 5-4 win-loss record with a 4.97 earned run average in 53 innings of work with 44 strikeouts.

Newcomers that should make an immediate impact will be juniors Charles Jackson (Central HS), Steve Joyner (USC-Union) and Joshua Terry (USC-Lancaster) along with sophomore X’Zavier Johnson (Toccoa Falls CC).

As a team, the Panthers batted .300 with 31 home runs and averaged 7.8 runs and 9.7 hits per game.

Before starting PBC competition, Claflin will open the season at home this weekend against host Virginia State University in a three-game series. There will be a double-header on Saturday (Feb. 1) starting at 1 p.m. followed by a single game on Sunday (Feb. 2) at 2 p.m.  The Panthers will host Lincoln Memorial University on Monday, Feb. 3 at 1 p.m.

Beside Virginia State and Lincoln Memorial, Claflin will face four additional non-conference teams, Lincoln University (PA), Clark Atlanta University, Paine College and Davis & Elkins College.

All home games will be played at Historic Mirmow Field in Orangeburg.

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