Rodney Hennon has plenty of history with Western Carolina.
As a player, the GSU coach was tops at WCU in hitting and scoring and made a trip to the NCAA regionals. In the late 1990’s, he led the Catamounts back to the top of the conference as the program’s head coach.
Of course these days, they’re just another team in GSU’s way.
“I don’t really look at it any different from anybody else in the league that we’re playing now,” Hennon said about the matchup against Western. “There’s always been a good rivalry over the years, and the reason for that is both programs have a lot of tradition. When Western Carolina and Georgia Southern get together it usually means something.”
The sentimental nature of the series wore off after the first few years at Georgia Southern.
“The first couple years when there were still players up there that I coached, it was probably tougher then,” said Hennon. “I was more connected. Some of the guys we coached and recruited were still with the program. Now all those guys played and moved on. The kids that are currently with there program, I really have no connection with.”
The Eagles (21-17, 12-6 Southern Conference) came off a tough two-game series at No. 3 Georgia Tech Tuesday and Wednesday, dropping the first game 6-2 after a pair of two-run homers by Tech, and falling Wednesday 18-4.
Tied for third in the SoCon standings, now’s not the time for the Eagles to lose focus. They face WCU (23-12, 6-8) in a three-game series starting today at 7 p.m. at J.I. Clements Stadium.
After an 18-4 loss, you’ve got to remind the team of its goals.
“Basically not to let one game affect that,” Hennon said about the talk with the team after the Tech series. “Pick yourselves up and get ready to go (against WCU). That’s what our focus is. We want to try to gain ground within the conference, and in order to do that, we can’t worry about what everyone else is doing.”
Jake Brown will get the start today. Matt Murray, who pitched 3.1 innings Saturday against Samford and quickly got back to work Wednesday, will handle Saturday’s start and Andy Moye will return to the mound to close the series.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.