For Savannah State University’s baseball exhibition season, now is the time coaches are seeing what they have on the mound and in the batters box. It is an important time in terms of development. However after a short start to the team’s practice, head coach Carlton Hardy can update on the status of the team thus far.
First off, Hardy says it is awesome to see his guys on the field, as this fall has been a good experience seeing them in their domain. Getting back out on the field on a daily basis creates something special. Not only are there relationships that are being built throughout the entire team, it also gives the coach an opportunity to see where the team can improve from an athletic performance standpoint heading into the 2020 season.
Right now the Tigers are entering into their second week of fall scrimmages. The team will be in a Fall Ball schedule from September until November. For the next few weeks, Hardy and his coaching staff will ensure that Savannah baseball continues to progress in training while allowing for assessment towards the latter part of each week with scrimmages.
This fall is a key time for the Tigers baseball program. Not only an opportunity for coaches to evaluate talent and start to assign guys roles for the spring. It is also a very important time for developing strength and size.
Another factor the program is preparing for, Savannah State athletics is moving back to NCAA Division II as money is the reason the athletic department dropped from Division I to Division II in all sports starting this fall school year, spring 2020 for the baseball season. The programs also have left the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and pursued membership in the Division II Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), with the NCAA approval.
Savannah State was a previous member in the SIAC from 1968 until 2000 when the university was granted approval for Division I membership. Joining the two division (SIAC) baseball conference opens up old rivalries and establishing new ones that will pit SSU with a tough conference schedule.
After a full week of team practice, the status of the team…
Currently 15 men are on staff with one returning starter. Coach Hardy is excited about the returning bullpen guys and incoming recruits to help solidify the staff. Competition has been intense during individual workouts and first two scrimmages as players are becoming acclimated to the rigors of college baseball.
Infield play is doing well. The Tigers have four guys who finished the year starting and they have come back to school ready for the challenge of the SIAC. A couple of incoming transfers will compete with the returning starters
Outfield play is very competitive. Seven guys are competing for the three positions. Three returning players who saw significant playing time last year are being challenged by two transfers. Catching has been very competitive. It looks like SSU will have four signal callers they feel comfortable with behind the plate.
The strength for hitting according to Hardy for the numerous guys who had at bat’s last year who returned to school hungry for more opportunities “the returning guys are being challenged by a handful of transfers who are ready to play. A good mixture of speed and power will be throughout the lineup on a daily basis. I feel that we currently have 14 guys who will be tough outs once the games begin.”
Catchers – Charles Lee, transfer from Louisburg Community College has really impressed as a left handed hitter and leader behind the plate.
First Base – Andrai Wright, transfer from Cuyahoga Community College brings a potent bat from the right side of the plate and will be pushing for at bat’s at first base and as a designated hitter.
Middle Infield – Malachi Mitchell, transfer from FAMU has been a pleasant surprise as he has transitioned from the outfield to the infield. Brings 6.3 speed and patience at the plate as well as terrific leadership skills to the program.
Outfield – Cameron Diaz, transfer from Wagner College is a player to watch.
Outfield – Max Tracey, transfer from West Georgia Tech brings 6.4 speed with quality bat speed to the program.
Pitching – Ricky McCleod Jr, transfer from Bryant Stratton Community College (LHP projected weekend guy).
Luis Lopez-Valdez, transfer from JUCO Olive Harvey (projected weekend guy).
Jackson Hickox, transfer from Brunswick Community College (projected back end guy out of the bullpen).