GSW baseball opens 2010 season today

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

AMERICUS -- Georgia Southwestern coach Bryan McLain does not buy his team's inexperience as a reason for lack of success in the Peach Belt Conference.

"It's been a failure," said McLain, whose team opens the season today at home with a noon doubleheader against Barry. "We now have the opportunity to turn that into success and this is our best opportunity yet."

Although the Hurricanes finished last season 19-33, McLain feels a solid core of seniors (10, to be exact) could help move the program forward.

"That could be a huge difference for us," McLain said. "Their experience will give us a chance, but we also know we are taking small steps. We're not going to say we're going to win a conference championship this year, but we can take an even bigger step forward than some say we will."

Six of those seniors are expected to start, including pitcher Ryan Lackey, who was 3-5 with a 5.74 ERA last year.

"He's been with us for four years now and I've seen how he's improved," McLain said. "He's a tall pitcher (5-foot-9) and is deceptive in his pitching speed."

Darton transfer Trent Dooley could be a big factor in the Hurricanes' middle of the lineup, adding to the presence that also includes Paschel Poston and Zack Stanton.

"Zack will probably hit at the No. 2 spot," McLain said. "He did a lot of good things for us last year."

Stanton batted .294 last season with four homers, 11 doubles, two triples and 34 RBI.

"I'm trying to take a different approach to the game this season, trying to slow things down," Stanton said. "I'm trying to put less emphasis on trying to do too much and instead concentrate on knocking people in instead of going for the home run all the time."

The other important part of the lineup, leadoff, will be utilized by last year's leading hitter Bud Long, who batted .345 with a homer, nine doubles, three triples, 24 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 2009.

"Bud is confident and I like that about him," McLain said. "You quickly realize the value of a leadoff guy like him."

Like many seniors, Stanton said he has grown tired of the losing. What matters to him now is being part of a senior class that sets the foundation for future success.

"I think that would be great if we had a winning season," Stanton said. "It would be the first winning season since we moved into the Peach Belt, and that would be something we would remember."