Spring Preview: USC-Salkehatchie
By: Bubba Dorman-February 6, 2007
After taking numerous bumps and bruises as a start-up program, the USC-Salkehatchie Indian baseball program looks to build on last year’s success and take another step towards building a solid baseball program for years to come. Last year’s squad primarily consisted of inexperienced freshmen, with only three players having collegiate playing experience. The 2007 team returns 16 players with significant collegiate innings under their belt.
Offensively, USC-Salkehatchie features a team with over 900 collegiate at-bats and they return over 65 percent of their offensive production from the 2006 season. Experience will also play a role on the mound for the Indians as they return almost 250 innings of work. The lessons learned on the field will be extremely important for this year’s team, as they will, once again, face a very challenging schedule. In addition to the always difficult Region X schedule, the Indians will play ten games against the perennial powers of Walters State Community College, Young Harris College and Middle Georgia College.
The duo of Sam Sinclair (So, Lancaster) and Travis Howard (Fr, Bonneau) will be counted on the carry the majority of the workload behind the dish. Sinclair returns after a stellar freshman campaign, in which he batted .326 and reached base at a .453 clip. Howard had an outstanding fall and has the potential to be a run-producer for the Indians. Cody Sonberg (Fr, Hilton Head) and Michael Silver (Fr, North Charleston) will also be fighting for innings behind the plate. Sonberg, who is athletic enough to get out from behind the plate, may also see time at first base this year.
USC-Salkehatchie welcomes back a great deal of experience on the infield as three starters return from the 2006 team. Brad Adkinson (So, Guyton, GA) will be the anchor of the infield at the shortstop position. Adkinson, who signed in the early period with USC Aiken, batted over .400 in the fall and was the Indians’ top homerun hitter a year ago. Chris Hale (Fr, Warwick, VA) and John Gibbs (Fr, Yemassee) look to push Adkinson for playing time in the middle of the diamond.
JC Eubanks (So, Lancaster) returns for another season as the starter at second base. Eubanks batted .316 and led the Indians with twelve doubles and nine stolen bases in 2006. Hamp Gibbs (Fr, Greenville) is a solid all-around player and will fight Eubanks for playing time at second.
The Indians have a pair of qualified candidates at third base, with Lanny Jones (So, Barnwell) and Drew Cione (So, Myrtle Beach) battling for the position. Jones is a scrappy player and returns after seeing plenty of time at second and third last year. Cione is a tremendous defensive player and comes to USC-Salkehatchie after a year at Northeast Texas Community College. Cal Cannon (Fr, Hampton) will also be vying for innings at the hot corner.
There are a number of guys that may step in and get innings at first base for the Indians this year. USC-Salkehatchie will likely go with the lefty-righty combo of Jeremy Webb (So, Aiken) and JT Gray (Fr, Greenville). Webb has made vast improvements in his year at here, and after a good fall, he will be counted on for run-production in the middle of the batting order. Steven Hafeychuck (Fr, Hardeeville) may also see time at first, but he will most likely get the majority of his innings in the designated hitter slot, as he has huge run-producing potential. Sonberg and Derek Cone (Fr, Lakeland, FL) are also in the mix for playing time at first.
Gary Owens (So, Greenville) returns to patrol center field for the Indians again this year. Owens, who was recently named to Collegiate Baseball’s junior college baseball watch list, had a solid freshman campaign and has his best baseball ahead of him. Gary hit .283 as a freshman and has power potential. Rhett Berry (Fr, Bowman) is a candidate to see innings in center this year when Owens goes to the mound.
Cody Johnson (So, Brownstown, MI) will be in left field for us again this year. Johnson hit .292 in the middle of the Indian line-up last year and will be asked for run-production again this year. Tiger Liggins (So, North Charleston) may also see some time in leftfield this year.
Rightfield for the Indians looks a lot like first base, as any of a number of guys may see significant action out there. Devin Zipperer (So, Rincon, GA) and Kyle Cook (So, Williston) return from the 2006 team where they had almost 100 at-bats between them. Wes Burgess (So, Irmo) transferred to USC-Salkehatchie from Erskine College, where he received significant playing time as a freshman.
The USC-Salkehatchie pitching staff returns almost 70 percent of their innings from a year ago and this group will be counted on once again to throw the ball over the plate. David Richardson (So, Hanahan), Ian Evans (So, Mt. Pleasant), Garrett Moore (So, Rowesville) and Owens will be in the mix for the four weekend starting spots. Richardson received the USC-Salkehatchie pitching award last year and he will be counted on for quality innings again this year. Evans, who signed early with USC-Aiken, posted six complete games last year. Moore led the team in innings pitched last year with 68. Owens was named Region X pitcher of the week last year and returns the best ERA from a year ago.
A number of newcomers will also be in the mix for significant innings on the mound this year. Right-handers, Josh Brodhecker (Fr, Martinez, GA), Adam Freeman (Fr, Aiken), Justin Newcomb (Fr, North Charleston), Ben Sheriff (Fr, Westminster), Andy Gamble (Fr, Lancaster), and Gibbs are all capable of getting outs for the Indians. Left-handers, Sean Pittman (Fr, Westminster) and Zane Jochimsen (Fr, Travelers Rest) will also be counted on for innings.
Note: DP thanks head coach Bubba Dorman for taking the time to preview his 2007 Indians..