The Georgia Southern baseball team finished the season in style as they swept the U.T. Arlington Mavericks in their final series of the regular season. The Eagles took game one Thursday 5-3, took the second game 18-9 and then finished the third game, which was started Friday evening and completed Saturday morning, with a 12-1 victory.
“I’m so proud of the guys and how they finished things off this weekend,” said Eagle coach Rodney Hennon. “Having to stop the game yesterday and then pick it up today our guys did a great job of staying focused. It was good to see some of our seniors finish off on a good note at home with a good crowd out here.”
The sweep ends the regular season for Georgia Southern with a record of 38-17 overall and a 23-7 record in the Sun Belt Conference which was good enough to earn them the No. 2 seed in this week’s Sun Belt tournament. The 38 wins is the most since the Eagles won 42 in 2009, and that team won 38 in the regular season as well.
“We are feeling great but we know the tournament means it’s like a new opening day for us,” said Eagle fifth year senior Austin Thompson. “We have to go up there and handle business like we have done all year. I think we are playing good baseball and the team is looking forward to the challenge.”
The Eagles have done pretty well on the mound, but it’s been the offense leading the way over the past couple weeks. In their last 10 games the Eagles have scored over 150 runs. Because of that the Eagles have had a chance to get plenty of non-starters playing time which Hennon feels could come in handy in the postseason.
“Lately we have been able to get a lot of guys involved,” said Hennon. “We have gotten guys at bats that we are going to need this week in the tournament. The fact that they have been able to get some at bats in some good situations and stay in the flow should help us this week.”
Georgia Southern just wrapped up their highest home attendance average in school history with 1,822 per game and second highest total attendance ever at 54,684. Those numbers bode well as they have already posted a bid to host the NCAA Regionals which would be the first time in school history if awarded.
“That would be amazing if we could be able to come back here and play again,” said Eagle fifth year senior Jason Swan. “We have been able to have some great crowds this year and we would have to pack J.I. Clements again if that happens.”
“Certainly, that would be special if it happened,” said Hennon. “We have to focus on the things we can control and that is going out and playing as hard as we can play every day. We can’t get caught up in the things that are out of our control we just have to do what we can to give ourselves the best chance to win.”
The Eagles open the Sun Belt tournament Tuesday against a yet to be determined team. The Eagles will face off Wednesday at 12:30 in Montgomery Alabama.
“In order to make a run in the tournament it takes everybody,” said Hennon. “It has to be a collective team effort. You have to have different guys step up on different days. It may be cliché but, in our sport, more than most you literally have to take it one pitch at a time and one game at a time. We are excited about the opportunity to go to Montgomery and are looking forward to competing on Wednesday.”
The Eagles have advanced to the Sun Belt Championship in four of the last five championships but haven’t been able to break through for a title since their final year in the Southern Conference in 2014.
“I feel like this team is different because we are just relentless,” said Eagle fifth year senior Christian Avant. “No matter what the circumstances are we are going to keep fighting. We are never out of it and that is what I love about this team and our guys. I feel like this is just a great team and the team that can do it.”
Four Eagles named to All-Sun Blet teams
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Four Eagles were named to the All-Sun Belt Conference teams, announced by the SBC on Monday afternoon. Jesse Sherrill and Noah Ledford were named All-Sun Belt First Team, while Jason Swan and Jay Thompson were named All-Sun Belt Second Team.
Jesse Sherrill was named All-Sun Belt First Team at second base. Sherrill transferred in from Kennesaw State prior to the beginning of the 2022 season and led the Eagles in batting average with .358, good for eighth in the Sun Belt Conference. Sherrill is tied for the lead for the Eagles in HBP with 17, and is second in the SBC in total HBP, just behind Troy's Jesse Hall. Sherrill also has 33 walks this season, which leads the GS baseball team and rounds out the top 10 in the conference.
Noah Ledford claimed the All-Sun Belt First Team spot at designated hitter. Ledford had a hot end of the season, which led him to finish the season as the RBI-leader in the conference with 67 RBI. In conference, Ledford had the third most homers with 15 homers, third with 134 total bases, tied for fourth with Jason Swan in doubles with 17, sixth in OPS with 1.076, seventh in hits with 70, seventh with a slugging percentage of .647, and 13th in walks with 31. Ledford ended the regular season with a spectacular weekend, knocking three home runs, including a grand slam, and batting in 12 runners in just two games.
Jason Swan was named All-Sun Belt Second Team as a first baseman. led the Eagles with 71 hits on the season, and was third on the team with a .329 batting average. His 71 hits tied him for fifth in the conference with Louisiana's Carson Roccaforte. He was also tied for first on the team in doubles with 17, and was second on the team in stolen bases with 11. Swan led the Sun Belt in putouts with 439 putouts.
Jay Thompson rounds out the Eagles in the postseason awards as an All-Sun Belt Second Team member at relief pitcher. Thompson was a dominant force out of the bullpen for the Eagles, appearing in 33 contests, which is the second most nationally. Thompson had a 3.86 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP this season, and collected a team-leading six saves, which leads the Sun Belt Conference. Thompson only allowed batters to hit .252 off of him and had 56 strikeouts this season, second-most on the team and good for 16th in the SBC.