0

SMALL COLLEGE NOTEBOOK: Local players pepper new GSW baseball, softball rosters; No. 1 GSW golfer Gibson qualifies for Canadian Amateur

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

AMERICUS -- Georgia Southwestern head baseball coach Bryan McLain announced the Hurricanes' 19-member signing class for the 2010-11 academic year Tuesday.

And for the first time in a number of years, there's quite a few former Southwest Georgia high school and college stars who will wear the Hurricanes uniform this season.

Heading straight from the prep field to the college diamond will be freshman Matthew Suggs (Lee County, P/OF), Colby Blackburn (Terrell Academy, OF) and Les Cromer (Crisp Academy, SS), while transferring from Albany's Darton College will be a pair of former Cavaliers stars: Jerrod Taylor (Freshman, C) and Matt Weaver (Junior, P).

"I am excited about this recruiting class and what each of these players can contribute both on and off the field," said McLain of the group that consists of nine transfers and 10 true freshmen.

Also making the transition from a two-year school to Division II GSW is former Westover star Andrew Anderson (Junior, 3B/OF), who transferred from South Georgia College this past offseason, and former Lee County standout Gray Cardin (Junior/P), who comes to GSW for his first season after two years at Middle Georgia College.

They will join two other former Southwest Georgia baseball stars who started -- and are continuing -- their careers at GSW in Jody Sellars (Southland Academy, Sr., P) and Beau Parker (Bainbridge, Junior, IF).

"We were able to fill our needs from the loss of last year's 10 seniors," McLain said. "I think we might be a little more athletic overall, but replacing the experience of 10 seniors is always difficult ... Hopefully, this group of young men will help us build on the accomplishments of last season."

Southwestern's 2010 campaign came to a close after a memorable run in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament, where the 'Canes were defeated in the championship game and finished a win shy of the NCAA Division II Regionals.

GSW posted program bests in overall wins (29), home wins (17), conference wins (12), batting average (.311), doubles (93), home runs (32), slugging percentage (.431), on-base percentage (.413), runs (359), stolen bases (95) and earned run average (5.53) since joining the NCAA in 2007.

GSW's 2011 schedule hasn't been finalized yet, but the Hurricanes will start play in February.

------------------------------

LEE'S KNIGHT JOINS GSW SOFTBALL:

Georgia Southwestern softball coach Eddie Ward recently announced the Lady Hurricanes seven-member signing class for the 2010-11 academic year on Thursday, which includes former Lee County star Hayley Knight,

"Each one of these ladies is a solid Division II prospect," said Ward of his class that consists of four transfers and three true freshmen. "The junior college kids coming in have excelled at their level. I know that they will blend into the Peach Belt."

Ward added that he doesn't think Knight, an outfielder, and the other fellow newcomers will need much guidance once they get to Americus.

"With the freshmen it's all a learning curve. I really think they will fit in well with all the existing players we've got," he said.

"Overall, I would look at this as one of my best recruiting classes since we have been in the Peach Belt and I look for each of these ladies to make an impact."

Last spring, Southwestern posted program bests in overall wins (20), home wins (12), conference wins (5), earned run average (3.68) and home runs (23) since joining the NCAA in 2007.

-------------------------------------

GIBSON HEADED HOME FOR CANADIAN AMATEUR:

BROOKS, Alberta -- How about a little golf, eh?

Georgia Southwestern golfer and Alberta-native Craig Gibson is headed to the Canadian Amateur Championship next week after finishing tied for 13th early last month in the Alberta Amateur.

The championship is in London, Ontario, Aug. 10-15.

"The first year I went to college, at Missouri Valley, I (medaled) at the nationals," Gibson said. "(But) this ranks pretty high (on my list of accomplishments). It's the best amateur championship in Canada."

It's the second recent amateur championship qualification by a local golfer, as Darton's Bill Jones qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship early last month as well.

"I'm proud of him," said Andrew Danna, the new head golf coach at Georgia Southwestern. "He works really hard and deserves every amount of success he gets. I think he'll play real well in the Canadan Amateur Championship."

As for his strategy going into the tournament, Gibson said winning would be a dream come true, but ultimately he just wants to play consistently.

"I'm just looking for four steady days," said Gibson, who was born and raised in Brooks, Alberta. "One (problem) I've had with tournaments is I always have one bad day -- it's usually the first day -- so I've been trying to prepare mentally. It's almost like I'm not ready for it, so I'm going to try to prepare a little more (ahead of time)."