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Baseball and softball and golf, oh my!


April 22, 2014

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    There are highs and lows throughout almost every season for every team in any sport — and Georgia Southern baseball certainly is going through a low point right now.
    Since March 14, the Eagles are just 12-13, including a series loss to Samford over the weekend, when the Bulldogs took two of three from the Eagles at Clements Stadium. A sub-.500 stretch spanning 25 games makes the 15-2 start to the season a distant memory. Granted, there are many struggling teams out there who would love to be .500, but mediocre isn’t good enough for a Georgia Southern program that has had just three losing seasons since 1972.
    This squad isn’t in any danger of falling below the .500 mark for the season — Southern is 27-15 overall with 13 regular-season games remaining — but the Eagles have some work to do to get back on track. And the problems aren’t just on the field.
    Last week, the Statesboro Herald reported that senior pitcher Will Middour and freshman infielder Aaron Palmer were dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules. Both players had already served suspensions earlier this season. Two other players, freshman outfielder Josh Black and freshman infielder Garrett Chapman, were suspended for one game over the weekend, also for violating team rules. Senior outfielder Robbie Dodds also left the team for personal reasons.
    Hopefully, this program can work past whatever issues that have been plaguing it and get back to being one of the strongest, most consistent programs in the conference.
    Georgia Southern hosts Bethune-Cookman Tuesday and the College of Charleston Wednesday before hitting the road to Wofford over the weekend. Southern beat C-of-C 7-3 last Wednesday in Charleston, and Wofford (20-19, 3-11) is sitting in next-to-last place in the SoCon standings, so maybe this week will be kind to the Eagles.
    The Eagles’ 9-9 conference record puts them in sixth place in the standings, but only Davidson (23-10, 13-3) and Western Carolina (26-12, 11-3) have fewer than six conference losses, so climbing the standings quickly is very doable. Southern just needs to return to its early season form.
    Georgia Southern softball is in a relative tailspin compared to the success the team is used to, losing four of its last six games, including two out of three to conference rival Furman last weekend. But this is likely just a minor speed bump; the softball Eagles are just fine.
    Georgia Southern still sits atop the SoCon with a 12-3 record in conference play (30-15 overall). Last weekend, the Eagles traveled to Chapel Hill, N.C., to face Alabama and North Carolina, but they only got a chance to play the Crimson Tide on Friday, as the rest of Southern’s weekend was rained out.
    The Eagles made the most of the game they did play, giving the No. 6 team in the country all it wanted. Southern struck first blood with a run in the top of the first inning, but Alabama plated two in the bottom of the fourth to lead 2-1. The Eagles’ Morgan Robinson tied the game with a home run in the top of the sixth, but Bama countered with two runs in the bottom of the frame. AJ Hamilton tied it up again with a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning, but a walk-off two-run home run ended the Eagles’ upset bid, and Alabama won 6-4.
    Still, the Eagle Nation can feel pretty good about Georgia Southern softball. With two conference series remaining, the Eagles hold a two-and-one-half game lead in the standings over Chattanooga and Furman. A series win at home this weekend against UTC will put the Eagles in the driver’s seat, with a shot to lock up the regular-season title next weekend at Samford.
    After the second round of the SoCon Golf Championship on Monday, Georgia Southern sat in second place at even par, four strokes behind Western Carolina, with the third and final round left to play on Tuesday. Unfortunately, due to press deadlines, we’ll have to talk about how it ended up next week.

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