It’s been a long time coming — 23 years to be exact — but the Georgia Southern Eagles have finally cracked the Top 25.
Currently riding a six-game winning streak, the Eagles were ranked No. 22 by Baseball America, entering the poll for the first time since 1990. That’s significant, because 1990 was also the last time the Eagles made it all the way to the College World Series.
It’s been quite a ride so far. Three Southern Conference series wins including two sweeps, non-conference wins over No. 13 Georgia Tech, No. 19 Indiana, mid-week wins over Florida and Mercer and a series win over Xavier highlight what has been GSU’s best start since 2009 and best SoCon start since 2005.
Really, the only blemishes for GSU (16-7, 8-1 SoCon) have been losses to Georgia on opening day and Kennesaw State during a mid-week game. Losses to Samford, Indiana and Georgia Tech (two) don’t really hurt all that much.
The most impressive thing about this team is its lack of flash.
There are no first-round draft picks on this team like the squads from 2010 and 2011.
The Eagles aren’t mashing in runs like they did in 2009.
And they certainly aren’t blowing away batters like the days of Everett Teaford and Dustin Evans.
So far this season, the only thing the Eagles have been really good at has been, well, beating you.
They’re batting .283 as a team, the collective ERA is 5.02 and they’ve committed 33 errors.
But while there are no glaring strengths, there are no glaring weaknesses, either. The pitching, the hitting — even at the bottom of the order — the fielding, the baserunning and the defense have all been, well, good enough.
The next two weeks are going to be crucial for Georgia Southern.
The next eight games, starting with today’s 6 p.m. contest against Jacksonville at J.I. Clements Stadium, are going to go a long way in deciding if the Eagles can stay in the Top 25. Not because the next two weeks are against quality opponents, but because they’re not.
They have two against Jacksonville (9-15), three against UNC Greensboro (11-12, 1-5 SoCon) and three against Appalachian State (12-8, 4-4).
That means that GSU actually has a chance at extending its six-game winning streak to 14.
It also means that if the Eagles stumble and drop a game or three over the next two weeks, they’ll drop back out of the Top 25 in a hurry.
We know how good the Eagles can be. The next two weeks will tell us how good they really are.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.