Originally created 02/16/99

Area college baseball outlook



AUGUSTA STATE: The Jaguars (1-7, 0-3 Peach Belt) have stumbled out of the blocks this season. Coach Skip Fite's team has dropped three of four to Carson-Newman.

Augusta State dropped a doubleheader to Armstrong Atlantic State on Monday, 7-6 and 10-4. It was the Jags' third straight loss to 18th Armstrong Atlantic. After beating Carson-Newman 8-4 on Feb. 7, the Jaguars were outscored 10-1 in their next two games.

Willie Carter and Ju Ju Foreman each had two hits and three RBI in Augusta State's one victory of the season.

CLEMSON: The Tigers have hosted an NCAA Regional tournament four of the last five years and have enough talent returning to make it five of six.

Clemson (3-0) has 1998 ACC Rookie of the Year Patrick Boyd back in the outfield. He is the nucleus of 10 returning batters who helped the Tigers lead the ACC with a .326 batting average.

First baseman Jason Harris batted .357 with nine home runs and 59 RBI last season. Former Strom Thurmond pitcher Scott Clackum is now with the Florida Marlins organization, leaving a void in the Tigers bullpen.

Right-hander Ryan Mottl and lefty Brian Adams will be the top starters for coach Jack Leggett.

GEORGIA: With only four seniors, coach Robert Sapp will be looking to veteran underclassmen like Mark Thornhill to play big roles.

The Bulldogs (3-0) swept a weekend series with UNC-Asheville to open the 1999 campaign. Thornhill led Georgia in batting last season as a freshman with a .369 average.

Sapp brought in three junior college transfers to solidify his pitching staff. Phillip Sledge and Matt Steele were teammates at Chipola Junior College in Florida. Both right-handers won eight games with Sledge going a perfect 8-0.

Greenbrier's Tim Fries is the projected closer for Georgia this season. The freshman was limited to bullpen duties in fall practices.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN: The Eagles drew more than 1,200 fans for their season opener with Georgia Tech last Saturday, with the Jackets taking both games. Evans product Michael Holder, a senior catcher, is batting .333 through two games. The Eagles play 15 of their first 16 games this season at home.

GEORGIA TECH: The Yellow Jackets are 4-4 but still ranked 11th nationally because of a national schedule to begin the season. Last weekend at Statesboro, Ga., the Yellow Jackets swept Georgia Southern in a two-game series behind the hitting of sophomore designated hitter Bryan Prince, who drove in seven runs in the series. Tech will play 20 of its next 21 games at home. Senior left-hander Chuck Crowder, an All-American last season, is the staff ace.

PAINE: The Lions are off to a 2-1 start under first-year coach Stanley Stubbs, who came to Paine after serving as an assistant coach at Jackson State.

Stubbs said his team lacks depth but "we have big hearts."

Stubbs said that shortstop Ricardo Nieblas of Calexico, Calif., could be the Lions' star. The junior college transfer from Calexico Community College is 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, plays shortstop and pitches. Stubbs also mentions outfielder Marlon Jones of Baltimore, outfielder Lance Hawkins of Lake Charles, La., utility man Jason Contant of Waterloo, Iowa, and infielder Thomas Gumes of Atlanta as top players.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Ray Tanner's third Gamecock squad is young but experienced. South Carolina (4-0) returns two freshman All-American pitchers in Kip Bouknight and Peter Bauer.

Bouknight was 11-3 with a 4.07 ERA last season while Bauer went 7-0. The Gamecocks lost All-American shortstop Adam Everett in the first round of the Major League draft, but the transfer of Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year Brian Roberts from North Carolina to USC should keep that position solidified.

Roberts led the NCAA in stolen bases last year and through three games this season had seven swipes. South Carolina has three players from the Augusta area on its roster. Catcher Rico Bravo, of Lakeside, was The Augusta Chronicle's Georgia Player of the Year in 1998.

He is joined by left-handed Brett Price of Batesburg-Leesville. Sophomore pitcher Matt Wilson won a state championship with North Augusta in 1997.

USC AIKEN: The Pacers are 0-4 on the road but picked up a 5-2 victory over USC Spartanburg on Feb. 13. Right fielder Antonio Evans leads USC Aiken (2-5) with 11 hits and is second to T.J. Harrington (.455) with a .407 batting average.

Evans went 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI against the Rifles. Josh Moyer (1-1) went the distance, striking out 11 while scattering nine hits. Moyer's 21 strikeouts on the season is one ahead of Chris Daniels who leads the team with a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings of work.

Daniels earned a 5-0 victory in the second half of the Pacers' doubleheader sweep of USC Spartanburg. He also had 11 strikeouts in seven innings of work.