MONROEVILLE –With 14 sophomores listed on the roster, Alabama Southern's baseball squad is looking to improve on last year's season.
In 2015, the Eagles endured a bit of a rebuilding campaign, going 23-28 a year after coming within a game of taking the state title and earning a berth in the Junior College World Series.
Coach Daniel Head is optimistic about his team's chances this season.
"We are able to match up with different types of pitchers and hitters because we have a good mix of left and right-handed hitters and left and right-handed pitchers," he remarked. "Also, this team set a record for highest GPA for any team I've had. This past fall, they had a team grade-point average of 3.20."
In addition, two Eagle sophomores have already signed letters of intent to play for four-year schools. Outfielder Chet Niehaus who comes to the Eagles from Hammond, Louisiana, has signed with Nicholls State while Braxton Wallace, a right-handed pitcher from Leroy, has signed to play at West Alabama.
The team is smart and has players who present a lot of problems for opponents but the coach said they have areas to improve on as well.
"We have to be more consistent on the mound," he said. "We've got to find ways to win close games and that just means we have to work hard to improve each and every day. If we do that, we should be in good shape and hopefully we can attain our goal of qualifying for the NJCAA Region 22 Tournament."
Sophomores on this year's team besides Niehaus and Wallace include: Brock Cooper (MIF, Hammond, La.); Tristan Rice (RHP, Ozark); Cody Lowe (IF, Pensacola, Fla.); Justin Whitsett (RHP, Millry); Will Neugent (C, Jackson); Jared Scott (LHP, Meridian, Miss.); Josh Taylor (OF, Sneads, Fla.); Jae Skoda (OF/RHP, Grand Bay); Tristan Montgomery (1B/RHP, Pensacola, Fla.); Lawrence Hyde (C, Excel); Ashton Linton (LHP, Pensacola); and Trent Belcher (C, Smiths).
Redshirt freshmen include Wade Bannister (LHP, Pike Road) and Ryan McClendon (OF/1B, Duluth, Ga,).
Eagle freshmen include: Zach Cumbie (MIF, Peterman); Peyton Bonvillain (IF, Thibodaux, La.); Wil Brasell (MIF, Thomasville); Brannon Christian (OF, Jackson); Landon Powell (C, Mobile); Dylan Crutcher (OF, Mobile); Trey Garris (RHP, St. Stephens); Rhett Hollon (MIF, Prattville); Brett Jordan (RHP, Pinson); Will Shaw (LHP, Wilmer); Logan Coleman (LHP, Montgomery); Cameron Whigham (RHP, Millry); Trace Johnson (IF, Montgomery) and Tucker Powell (LHP/1B, Mobile).
The Eagles begin the season on the road, February 3 at Marion Military Institute. The home opener is February 9 against Gulf Coast State College of Panama City, Fla. That game begins at 1:30 in Monroeville.
On February 11, the Eagles will play at special home game at Thomasville High School against Pearl River Community College. That game will be a doubleheader and it begins at 1:30.