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Baseball bringing the heat

VSU Head Baseball Coach Greg Guilliams and his team are more than ready to begin their 2012 campaign in roughly two weeks with an almost entirely new team.

“I think we have a pretty talented group of seniors to hopefully lead us,” said Guilliams.

Guilliams, who is heading into his fifth season as Blazer skipper, realizes that leadership and the way his seniors play will be very significant factors in the team’s success this season.

The seven seniors on this year’s roster have all been dealt high expectations to lead the newcomers and to get them meshed with the team system.

The Blazers exited the postseason early last season and plan to have a different outcome this time around, bringing in several new strong pitchers making the depth of the bullpen deeper than it has been for years.

The most experienced pitcher in the bullpen this season is senior Kevin Rodgers who, along with other lefty Pete Whittingslow, undoubtedly will be in the starting rotation.

Florida College transfer pitcher Whittingslow, who has a upper 80’s type fastball, and Benjamin Weil are getting geared up for their first season as Blazers.

Other notable additions are Sante Fe transfers, third basemen Austin Lawerence and righty Jarod Carlton.

“The biggest impact will probably be on the mound with a lot of the new guys,” Gilliams said. “They have to step up and be able to pitch well for us because we are only as good as that pitcher on the mound.”

As far as swinging the bats goes, the Blazers will lean on their seniors for offensive production, especially UGA transfer Christian Glisson.

Glisson, who battled injuries throughout his first season as a Blazer, still managed to earn Gulf South Conference second team honors.

Glisson has a few fellow teammates who will assist him on the offensive end, including guys like strong hitter Cameron Graves and utlity man Chaz Bagwell.

Glisson now admits he is finally healthy and recovered from his elbow surgery a few years back.

“That’s the best thing about this year,” Glisson said. “It’s just a sure fact that I’m going to be fully 100%.”

Although returning senior Ryan Noelte lead the way batting-wise last season for the Blazers, Glisson, in his best shape yet, will be expected to dominate in that category this season.

“I’m just going to have to carry the load,” Glisson said. “I just got to be prepared to do that.”

Glisson who is arguably the best catcher in Division II, finds that his team’s chemistry is better than one would expect from a team with so many new faces.

“I kid you not, it’s probably the best I’ve ever seen,” Glisson said.

“We got a lot of guys that just have the same goal and mindset. That’s a good thing to have and I think we all have our priorities straight. We are out there to work hard and it shows every day.”

The Blazers will begin their run towards reclaiming the conference championship when they host Lindenwood in the Comfort Suites Classic on Feb. 3. First pitch will be at 2:30 p.m.

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