Griffon baseball opens up against nationally-ranked North Alabama
By Kyle Inman
February 15, 2012
The Griffon baseball team will open up its season in Florence, Ala., against 5-1 North Alabama in a three-game series on Feb. 18-19.
“We think we are ready to play, and we think we have our lineup set as far as who we are going to start opening day,” coach Buzz Verduzco said. “Two out of three starting pitchers they haven’t seen yet, so that’s a positive. We’ve seen two of their pitchers that will open up for them.”
North Alabama was ranked No. 20 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Poll and was also ranked ninth nationally by College Baseball Lineup heading into the season after making the NCAA tournament last season. The Griffons have high expectations of their own, being picked to finish third in the MIAA preseason coaches poll.
The Griffons are looking forward to getting out on the field after being stuck practicing inside.
“They have been outside, and they’ve been practicing everyday outside, so that makes a little bit of a difference,” Verduzco said. “We’re kind of field-housed out now, we’re ready to play. Our guys are getting antsy. We’re tired of being inside and just want to play somebody else; we’re excited about it.”
Verduzco is looking for the Griffons bullpen to keep the game close with the offense produces after the starters come out.
“Our bullpen is going to have to do a job. Very rarely are you going to have a kid go six or seven innings on opening day and have it be okay,” Verduzco said. “The first team that flinches starting pitching wise is probably going to lose the game.”
The Griffons will be looking for offense from their returning leader in batting average and home runs, first basemen Spencer Shockley. JUCO transfers Bubba Dotson and Shawn Egge will be counted on to play the outfield and provide offense.
“I think Egge is going to be a really good one,” Verduzco said. “He’s physical and can run, almost like a pro-type player.”
Sophomore outfielder David Chew, junior shortstop Michael Shulze and infielder Kyle Simpson will also be counted on for the Griffons.
“Simpson is very good defensively, and we will see how he hits,” Verduzco said. “We feel pretty comfortable with what we are going to send out there.”
The Griffons will play their first game of the season at the Spring Sports Complex Feb. 24-26 in a four-game series against Nebraska-Kearney.