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Georgia Southern begins SoCon swan song at Elon

Georgia Southern (15-2) at Elon (11-6)
Friday, 6 p.m.,106.5 FM, 103.7 FM
Elon, N.C.

SoCon Baseball Standings
Team                  Con.    All        Stk  GB

Ga. Southern    0-0        15-2      W-8    -
Samford             0-0        11-5       L-1     -
Elon                     0-0        11-6     L-1     -
Wofford               0-0        10-7    W-1    -
W. Carolina           0-0        8-7    L-5        -
Davidson              0-0        7-6     W-4    -
The Citadel          0-0        8-9    W-1    -
UNCG                 0-0        7-9    L-1        -
Furman                0-0        7-10    W-1    -
App. State           0-0        4-13    L-2        -

Friday's Games
    App State vs. Michigan, Noon
    Samford at #10 Louisville, 3 p.m.
    Rider at Western Carolina, 4 p.m.
    Georgia Southern at Elon, 6 p.m.
    The Citadel at Davidson, 6 p.m.
    Alcorn State at Wofford, 6 p.m.

NCAA Statistical Leaders
Batting Average
T1. Georgia Southern    .345
T1. Kentucky    .345
3. San Diego    .341
4. UC Santa Barbara    .340
5. Florida International    .329
6. Delaware State    .324
7. Ole Miss        .322
8. South Carolina    .320
9. Seton Hall    .319
10. LSU        .319

Home Runs
1. Georgia Southern    23
T2. Mercer        17
T2. Troy        17
T2. Tennessee Tech    17
5. Samford        15
T6. Kentucky    14
T6. Georgia State    14
8. Davidson    13
9. Oklahoma    12

Overall Record
South Carolina    16-0
Tennessee        15-1
FIU        15-1
Indiana State    12-1
LSU        16-2
Ole Miss        16-2
Vanderbilt        16-2
Georgia Southern    15-2
North Carolina State    14-2
Louisiana-Lafayette    14-2
Florida State    14-2
UC Santa Barbara    11-2
Oregon State    15-3
Texas Tech        15-3

    It’s time to take this show on the road.
    The Georgia Southern Eagles had a wildly successful 14-game homestand over the last couple of weeks, ending it at the top of the nation in team batting average (.345) and home runs (23), but they have to leave Statesboro for the first time in a month.
    The Eagles (15-2) will play away from J.I. Clements Stadium for the first time since the season’s opening week when they went to Georgia and took two of three.
    Southern Conference play opens with a three-game series at Elon (11-6). Georgia Southern drew the short end of the stick as far as conference scheduling. College of Charleston’s departure last season left a nine-team schedule, and GSU will be one of the teams on the road more times in league play then they’ll be at home.
    “The way it worked out for us is that five of our nine are on the road,” GSU coach Rodney Hennon said. “That’s something I addressed to our team on Wednesday at the end of practice. We played with a lot of energy in Athens and had good focus, at least for two of the games up there, and it’s going to be important to keep doing that.”
    The successful homestand and the big offensive numbers, as well as the team earned-run average (2.49) have the Eagles in the national spotlight, getting mentioned in several national college baseball publications.
    “It’s not something that we talk about,” Hennon said. “Obviously it’s good exposure for our program, but we’ve got to be focused on what we’ve got to do and we’ve got to keep getting better. I keep saying that there’s a long way to go, and there really is. It’s a new season this weekend for everybody.”
    The weekend will abbreviated for the Eagles, compared to the last three weekends when GSU played four games with a doubleheader each Saturday.
    Sam Howard (3-1, 1.08 ERA, 25 IP, 30 K) will get the ball today at 6 p.m., for the Eagles. Josh Wirsu and Will Middour will round out the starting rotation for the series.
    “One thing that was good about those four-game weekends is we had to focus,” Hennon said. “It was a good experience for our team and hopefully it will pay off as we get into the three-game series from here on out.”
    The Eagles will look to improve on the disappointing 2013 campaign, when they finished SoCon play 13-17.
    The weekend’s matchup will pit a pair of SoCon teams who would both like to leave a mark on their way out of the SoCon. GSU is joining the Sun Belt next season, and Elon, the defending SoCon champion, will join the Colonial Athletic Association.
    “It’s the last go-round in the SoCon,” Hennon said, “and certainly we want to do everything we can to go out on top.”

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.