With its season right around the corner, the Spring Hill College (SHC) baseball team has been preparing for a potential Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) title this preseason. SHC Athletics officially joined the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II conference in the summer of 2018, and the Badgers are now able to compete in postseason play in hopes to advance to the NCAA regionals if they win the conference tournament.
With 17 seniors on the team, the players are elated that they are finally able to compete in the postseason. Infielder Maverick Latour is very excited about his final season as a Badger and the opportunity to end his collegiate career with a conference title under his belt. “I’m very excited about it because, I mean, I’ve been here for four years,” Latour said while smiling during an interview last week. “So, to finally get the reward of being able to play for a postseason opportunity my senior year, it’s kind of like the grand finale,” he continued.
The team is working hard on the field and in the weight room to be in the best shape as possible for a successful season. “We’ve got a chance, I think, to be pretty good if we put it together,” said Frank Sims, head coach for the Badgers, while standing on the college’s historic baseball field before the team’s afternoon practice last week.
Preseason is a time to evaluate a team’s strengths. While Sims believes his team has strengths in every position, he said the team’s defense will be very successful. “Defensively, we should be pretty good, solid,” he said. Sims also added that he hopes the team’s hitting is just as good as last season. “Last year we hit really well. I hope we do again. Hitting is a little fickle. You never know about hitting,” he continued.
After the pitching staff suffered injury after injury last season, Sims says that with the returners and newcomers, they should have a lot of depth to contribute to an overall strong team. Some key returning pitchers are seniors Austin Barrios and Zach Paulene. The newcomer pitchers expected to contribute this season are transfers Grant Atwood, Chance Shell, Taylor Gibson and Christian Long.
The Badgers will host their season opener this Friday, Feb. 1, at the Historic Stan Galle Field at 3 p.m. against Missouri S&T. The weekend series against the Miners will continue on Saturday, Feb. 2, with a doubleheader at 12:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and will end on Sunday, Feb. 3, at 11:00 a.m. The next home game will be against the University of West Florida Argonauts on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 5:00 p.m.. Conference play will begin on Friday, March 16, against Paine College in Atlanta, Georgia with a doubleheader.