UGA Baseball: Bulldog Rotation Set For Opener
Feb. 15, 2017
Smith, a 6-5, 215-pound lefthander from Dunwoody, draws the Opening Day start Friday against College of Charleston. The Cougars will counter with 6-8, 215-pound junior right-hander Bailey Ober. Smith went 5-1 with a 3.91 ERA last season for the Bulldogs while Ober registered a 7-4 mark and 3.53 ERA for the Cougars. Smith made 13 appearances in 2016 with seven starts, compiling 40 strikeouts and 21 walks in 46 innings. Ober opted to return this year after getting drafted in the 23rd round last year by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He tallied 15 starts and struck out 96 with 27 walks in 97 innings. Friday’s season-opener will begin at 5:02 p.m.
Locey, a 6-3, 234-pound right-hander from Columbus, gets the start Saturday in game two of the series. Rawlings/Perfect Game rated him the top prep pitcher in Georgia in 2016, and he earned First Team All-America honors. He helped Houston County to a state title, going 9-4 with a 2.04 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 77 innings. The Cougars will start junior right-hander Carter Love (3-2, 2.87 ERA). He made 23 relief appearances last year and struck out 34 with 17 walks in 37.2 innings.
Adkins, a 5-11, 173-pound right-hander from Powder Springs, will start Sunday. He is in his first season with the Bulldogs. He spent two years at Coastal Carolina and then led Chattahoochee Valley Community College to the 2016 NJCAA World Series. Last year, he went 8-2 with a conference-best 1.81 ERA including five complete games and three shutouts as the Pirates finished 52-13. In 79.2 innings, Adkins posted 82 strikeouts and only 10 walks.
“It was close between Kevin and Chase for the Friday spot, and we liked Tony for the Saturday role so whoever didn’t start Friday was going to be our Sunday starter,” Stricklin said. “Kevin gained valuable experience last year as a freshman, and he’s looked good the last three weeks leading up to this season. Chase has done well too, and he was disappointed when he got the news about going Sunday instead of Friday. We told him to pitch with that chip on his shoulder. All three guys will play important roles for us in each series.”
Georgia’s top returning hitters include junior outfielder Keegan McGovern and catcher Michael Curry, and they have been named the team captains for 2017. McGovern, an Academic All-SEC selection, started all 57 games in left field last year and led the team with 35 RBI and 35 walks. He had a perfect fielding percentage in 100 total chances with four assists. Curry, a Freshman All-America by Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game in 2016, made 50 starts including 43 at catcher. He hit a team best 11 home runs and earned Freshman All-SEC distinction and a spot on the SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll. Curry and McGovern along with junior college transfer Will Campbell (OF) will likely hit in the middle of the order for the Bulldogs this season.
The Bulldogs have a large contingent of talented freshmen, and they will contribute heavily in 2017. The left side of the infield will likely consist of Cam Shepherd at shortstop and Aaron Schunk at third base plus Will Proctor would be at second base if sophomore LJ Talley, who started 50 games there last year, gets the nod at first base over sophomores Adam Sasserand Patrick Sullivan. In the outfield, look for freshman Tucker Maxwell in centerfield while freshman Tucker Bradley is projected to split time between right field and designated hitter. Maxwell and Bradley should alternate hitting in the leadoff and No. 9 spot in the order. Also, freshman Austin Biggar will help share the load at catcher. Juniors Mitchell Webb (3B/OF),Trey Logan (SS/2B) and sophomore Logan Moody (OF), should see a fair amount of action as well. Overall, Georgia has 18 newcomers among its 35-man roster.
Stricklin enters his fourth season at the helm. The Bulldogs are 3-0 all-time against the Cougars. In a preseason poll, Southeastern Conference (SEC) coaches picked Georgia to finish fourth in the Eastern Division behind nationally ranked Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. The Gators were picked to win the division while LSU was deemed the favorite in the West, according to the league coaches. Also, Florida and LSU got six votes each while the Gamecocks received two in their projection of the SEC Champion.
Pitching Matchups For The Series
Friday at 5:02 pm: Kevin Smith (5-1, 3.91 in 2016), LHP, So. vs. Bailey Ober (7-4, 3.53 in 2016), RHP, RJr.
Saturday at 1:02 pm: Tony Locey, RHP, Fr. vs. Carter Love (3-2, 2.87 in 2016), RHP, Jr.
Sunday at 1:02 pm: Chase Adkins, RHP, Jr. Transfer vs. TBA
Foley Field Ticket Information
* Ticket Booth and Gates open two hours before first pitch.
* Reserved Seat Tickets: $8; General Admission Tickets: $5; Order online or by calling 1-877-542-1231
* UGA Student Tickets: Free Admission with valid UGA Student ID Card
* UGA Student Gate is located off Rutherford Street
Promotions For The College of Charleston Series
* First 1,000 Fans on Friday Receive a Free Schedule Magnet
* First 750 Fans on Friday Receive a Free “Opening Day” T-shirt
* Anthem Buddies: Kids 12 and under are invited to stand with their favorite player during the National Anthem
* Kids run the bases and play catch in the outfield following the game
* Post-Game Autographs
TV: SEC Network+: Friday (simulcast); Saturday (Kaleb Frady, Jason Jacobs); No TV for Sunday
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG College (Jeff Dantzler/David Johnston)
Stations: 960 AM-WRFC and selected affiliates (check your local listings), georgiadogs.com and via the Georgia Bulldogs app and TuneIn app.
Additional Coverage on Twitter: @BaseballUGA