Sunday, January 26, 2014
Charleston Southern began its three weeks of official practice and preparation for the 2014 season this weekend at CSU Ballpark.
The Bucs scrimmaged on Saturday and CSU head coach Stuart Lake likes what he sees from his veterans. The Bucs return three All-Big South performers, led by centerfielder Bobby Ison, a Stratford product, and senior lefthander Tory Schroff. Lake sees the Bucs' experience in the starting lineup as an advantage they can ride against a tough non-conference schedule to open the year.
"No question that will help us," Lake said Saturday. "You look around our outfield and we should be very strong with Bobby (Ison), (Chase) Shelton, (Nick) Berry, (Zach) Hagaman, and (Brian) Welch. (Bobby) is a big part of what we do out there in center and at the top of our lineup."
Replacing weekend starter Ryan Gunther, a former Stratford Knight and 12th-round selection by the Atlanta Braves, will be one of the Bucs' biggest challenges heading into the season. Schroff and fellow lefty Andrew Tomasovich will anchor the Bucs' weekend rotation. Both were sharp Saturday, allowing only a single and a walk in six combined innings of work.
"Some of our guys have really pitched well," Lake said. "Schroff and Tomasovich made us feel good again today with their outings. We need to get a right-hander into the weekend mix. We need someone like Levi Mauldin to step up to go with what we've seen from Joe Pistacchio, Austin Weekley, and Tyler Weekley. They have both been very good."
One Buccaneer making a position change after three years at shortstop is third baseman Alex Tomasovich. The senior has started the last three seasons at short for the Bucs, but will make the move to third and sophomore Kevin Hickey will move over from second base.
"It was a comfort thing for him," Lake said of the Tomasovich move. "He played there this summer, and we really like Kevin in the middle. Third maybe projects better for Alex's future. I'm excited about what we have on that side of the infield."
CSU will host Meet the Bucs on Feb. 8 at CSU Ballpark. The Bucs will also hold a Youth Skill Camp (ages 7-12) from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. that morning.
The Buccaneers open the 2014 season on Feb. 14 against Villanova. First pitch of the opener of a three-game series with the Wildcats is at 4 p.m. at CSU Ballpark.