by Chris Webb
The bats continue to boom for a streaking Blazers squad.
The Blazers enter the weekend with their bats blistering and have been destroying everything thrown their way early in the season.
No. 23 Valdosta State (11-3, 6-2 in GSC) look to keep the bats rolling when they welcome North Alabama (9-3, 3-2 in GSC) into Billy Grant Field for a three-game weekend series that includes a double header on Saturday.
Leading the Gulf South Conference in 10 offensive categories including hits, runs, doubles, homeruns, and runs batted in, VSU’s offense is on pace for huge numbers this year if their early tear can continue.
A major part of the early success at the plate has been the production and contributions of the 3-4-5 hitters, Bryant Hayman, Hayden Jones, and Kevin Cruz who own .481, .500, and .429 batting averages respectively.
The trio have already combined for 13 homeruns, 60 RBI, and 48 runs scored.
“We have swung the bats well so far, it is nice having a offense where you know you’re never out of a ball game.” Head Coach Greg Guilliams said. “We are going to score runs this year with the big strong guys we have.”
The 13 homers are more then eight of the other nine GSC teams have combined on the season to put their starts in perspective.
Toeing the rubber for the Blazers this weekend looking to silence UNA’s bats will be Mitchell Cody, Kyle Andre and Austin Glorious.
“Mitchell and Kyle constantly fill up the strike zone for us, you don’t see them hurting themselves with walks and getting behind in counts and that’s the biggest thing working for them right now. Austin has pitched well recently for us also, we just need get consistent with a few of our other pitchers.” Guilliams said about his pitching staff.
Kellan Bailey who competed for a spot in the starting rotation out of camp has emerged as a valuable weapon out of the bullpen for Coach Guilliams, and has liked what he has seen from the lefty late in games this season.
“Bailey has done such a good job out of the bullpen that with the way he is pitching it is going to be hard for me to move him out of that role.”
The main task and challenge for VSU’s pitching staff this upcoming weekend will be limiting the Lions speed on the base paths.
UNA comes into town with 28 stolen bases leading the GSC; outfielders Heath Wood and Brandon Pugh have combined for 18 of them.
“We need to keep them off first base” Guilliams said. “If they do get on first then we need to find ways to disrupt their timing on the base paths. Whether that is our pitchers holding onto the ball longer or just attempting more pickoffs, we have to find ways to help our catchers throw them out.”