The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will open the season on Saturday with a visit to Georgia Southern. The Jackets are coming off a 50-18 season in 2006 and a CWS appearance. The Jackets are led by All-American catcher Matt Weiters who also closes games. He was named the number 2 pro prospect this summer in the CCBL behind Justin Smoak. David Duncan will be the lead returning pitcher. Georgia Southern is heading into the series with a 1-2 record from their series in Hawai’i.
The Citadel will open the season this weekend against the East Tennessee State Buccaneers for a 3 game weekend series. The Bulldogs will start Wes Wrenn on Friday night against ETSU starter Brandon Langston. Saturday’s matchup will be Matt Crim against Drew Story. In the final game, Justin Smith will take the mound for the Bulldogs against an unknown starter.
Fred Jordan of the Citadel was kind enough to answer some few questions about the upcoming season. The College Baseball Blog would like to thanks Coach Jordan and Melanie Long of the Citadel Media Relations department for taking the time to set up the interview. Coach Jordan is coming off a 34-27 season where they finished as the runner-ups in the Southern Conference Tournament.
1) The Citadel lost some key players up the middle. Do you have any players that have stepped up to take their places?
Freshmen Kyle Jordan and Bryan Altman will play at shortstop and second base. Junior Chris Swauger could move over to center from left field in some situations along with Chance Smith and Graham Couch. Conrad Kellahan, who got some starts at second last year, and freshman Matt Simonelli will provide some offensive depth in the middle infield.
2) The Citadel is returning two of the three weekend starters this season. You have two sophomores in Matt Crim and Wes Wrenn who were able to be solid starters in the Southern Conference last year. After reading the season preview, it is expected that Justin Smith will fill the third starter role on the weekend. Who do you think will be able to replace Smith in the bullpen?
Freshman Matt Reifsnider will work as our top set-up guy and is the number four starter. Brett Bull, Timmy Martin and Chris Boyce are our right-handed set-up guys, while Jamie Maxwell, Chris McGuiness and Nick Sprowls are our left-handers. Freshman Raymond Copenhaver is our sidearm specialist.
3) The uniform start date goes into effect next season, how will that affect your team in the future? Do you see your school hosting any more tournaments? Also, what are your thoughts on the rule change?
The new start date will affect every team the same. Everyone is going to have to play more Tuesday/Wednesday combos than in years past. We are still planning on hosting two tournaments in the beginning of the season as we have done for the last 12 years. The rule is hopefully going to improve college baseball as a whole, so if that is the case then I am in agreement with the decision even though we play in a warm-weather climate.
4) What team in the Southern Conference will provide the biggest challenge for the Bulldogs this season?
Western Carolina, Elon and the College of Charleston all have outstanding teams. Georgia Southern and Furman have plenty of depth in certain areas. The SoCon is by far the strongest it has been in my 15 year tenure. This could be the first year that we place three teams in post-season play.
5) Your son is an incoming freshman this season. What is the toughest challenge in coaching your son at the collegiate level?
The toughest challenge is not being overcritical of Kyle. We have established that our assistant coaches will handle the majority of the coaching.
6) What player or coach have you enjoyed working with the most during your long career?
I established a tremendous relationship with Jack Stallings at Georgia Southern at the end of his career and the beginning of mine. I still draw from his wealth of knowledge in many instances. I can’t pick one player that I have enjoyed working with the most. All players become part of my family so they are all very special to me.
7) What is the greatest challenge you face coaching at one of the top military institutes in the country?
The greatest challenge is educating the parents and student-athletes during the recruiting process of how beneficial a Citadel career and degree can be for their future. Development within the program is a key element to success in college baseball, but recruiting is the lifeline for your success.
We would like to thank Coach Jordan for taking the time to do this interview and hope him so good luck in this season and his career.
The Citadel Media Relations Department has released the season preview for the 2007 season. The Bulldogs are coming off a 34-27 record in 2006. They return two out of the three weekend starters in Sophomores Wes Wrenn and Matt Crim. Senior pitcher Justin Smith is expected to make the move to the rotation for the season. The Citadel offense will need to replace shortstop Matt Matulia who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs. They also lost second baseman Tripp Cappelman who graduated last spring. They have a bunch of young talent coming in with a strong freshman class.
Full preview is available here.
The Southern Conference has released its pre-season coaches poll and College of Charleston is the pick to win the conference behind All-American pitcher Nick Chigges. Western Carolina, Elon, and Georgia Southern round out the top four. The full poll and the pre-season conference teams are available here.
SouthernCollegeSports.com has posted a series of previews on different conferences recently which are very knowledgeable for a quick synopsis of each conference. Each preview that has been released is listed below.
The Elon Baseball team has released their 2007 schedule. They open the season in the Springmaid Beach Resort Tournament hosted by Coastal Carolina where they will take on UVA, Coastal Carolina, and North Florida. They also have a trip to Miami to face the Hurricanes for a three game set before opening the season in the Southern Conference. They have big weekday home games against North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wake Forest to name a few. The full schedule is available here. The athletic department also has posted some news and notes in this press release which was released today.
The Western Carolina Catamounts were picked by Collegiate Baseball to win the Southern Conference in 2007. The full press release from Western Carolina is available here.
Projected Order of Finish
1. Western Carolina
2. College of Charleston
4. UNC Greensboro
5. The Citadel
6. Georgia Southern
8. Appalachian State
SEBaseball has posted a preview on the Citadel Baseball team for the 2007 season. The team should compete for an NCAA bid in the very strong and underrated Southern Conference.
You can read the full preview here.