Spring Record: UGA’s baseball season hasn’t started yet. The season starts on February 19th, 2016 against Georgia Southern.
Last Season’s Record: The Bulldogs went 26-28 last season under head coach Scott Stricklin. In Southeastern Conference play, Georgia went 10-19 and performed well below expectations. At Foley Field, the Bulldogs were .500 (16-16) however, on the road, Georgia was 8-10.
Key Games: Georgia has a tough road this season to get back to the College World Series. The major series this season is with top-ranked Florida. These games happen April 21-23 in Gainesville. The Gators finished 52-18 last season and return several starters. A week earlier, Georgia plays in another key series against No. 17 South Carolina at home. These games happen April 14-17th. Both series will likely define Georgia’s season and give fans a better picture of just how good the team really is in 2016.
A last major game is the annual Georgia vs. Georgia Tech game at Turner Field. This is the last battle at the Atlanta Braves stadium and bragging rights are on the line. Each team is vying to own the title of winner in the last contest at the stadium. Georgia holds the edge with a 6-0 victory at “The Ted” last season.
Last Season: 2015 didn’t go Georgia’s way. The team finished 26-28 and were up and down the entire season. Georgia endured numerous losing streaks including a five-game skid in late March against Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. This resulted in the Bulldogs missing the 12th and final spot for the SEC tournament.
The injury bug also hampered the Bulldogs. Georgia lost two of their starting pitchers in sophomore Robert Tyler and David Sosebee to arm and back injuries. Both returned late in the season, but it wasn’t enough to make a late postseason run.
However, Georgia did have a few surprises in 2015. They took 2/3 games against a top-ranked Florida State team and finished the season going 4-2 over the final six games. Offensively, junior Stephen Wrenn stood out by hitting .324 with eight homers. He also set a school-record with 38 consecutive games getting on base.
Scott Stricklin (Head Coach): Stricklin has been a coach at Georgia for two years. This season will be his third as HC at Georgia. He started his coaching career in 1998 as a volunteer coach at Georgia Tech. He has had stops at Vanderbilt and a previous HC stop at Kent State.
Fred Corral (Assistant Coach/Pitching Coach): Corral has been at Georgia for two seasons. This season will be his third at Georgia. He joined in June of 2013 and has overseen the development of pitcher Robert Tyler.
Scott Daeley (Assistant Coach/ Recruiting Coordinator): Daeley has been with Georgia for two seasons. This year will be his third at Georgia. He has been apart of Stricklin’s staff for nearly 11 years going back to their time at Kent State.
Jimmy Rider (Volunteer Coach): Rider has been with the program for one season. This season will make his second as a volunteer coach.
Last National Championship: 1990 season
Last Conference Title: 2008 season
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2011 season
Key Players This Season:
1.) Robert Tyler (Pitcher): Junior Robert Tyler returns this season looking to build off of a shortened 2015. He missed a chunk of 2015 with a forearm strain. When healthy, Tyler is one of the best pitchers in the NCAA. He boasts a strong fastball and a slick breaking ball. It made him the top sophomore pitcher last preseason. He is expected to bolster the rotation and is an expected top-five draft choice.
2.) Stephen Wrenn (Outfielder): Junior Stephen Wrenn returns this season as the overall leader in batting average, runs stolen bases and home runs. He is an important player for 2016 as he is the engine that runs the entire Georgia lineup. He sets the table for the offense and provides strong defense in center field.
3.) David Gonzalez (Pitcher): Gonzalez is a key part to the Bulldogs in 2016. He has starter potential and could revamp the Georgia bullpen. He redshirted last season due to a shoulder injury but had a 2.19 ERA in his sophomore season.
Key Players Last Season:
1.) Jared Cheek (Pitcher): Cheek was a key player last season as he had six saves and made 24 relief appearances last year. He was the main pitcher out of the bullpen and posted a 2.64 ERA. He was drafted in the 21st round by the Chicago Cubs.
2.) David Sosebee (Pitcher): Sosebee was one of the main pitchers from last season. He was the pitcher that sealed a 10-5 victory over Florida State and was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 28th round.
3.) Brandon Stephens (Catcher): Stephens was a the captain last season for Georgia. He also provided steady offense as he hit .291 with five doubles and 13 RBI’s.
Key Statistics This Season: Georgia hasn’t had any games this season to qualify for any key statistics. However, here are two statistics that the team will look to build on.
1.) 40 Home Runs: Georgia hit 40 homers but struggled to score runs when it needed last season. The team looks to build on that statistic this season.
2.) Georgia was 17-5 last year when it scored first. The team will look to build on that this season with a more experienced roster.
Key Statistics Last Season
1.) 3.96 Team ERA: Georgia pitched well as a team last season. They owned a 3.96 team ERA and held opponents to 436 runs over 54 games.
2.) Undefeated when team scores 10+ runs: Georgia scored a lot of runs in 2015. They also won a lot of games as well. Offensively, Georgia had .394 slugging percentage and 254 RBIs.
3.) Junior Skyler Weber led team with 37 RBIs: Weber was on the field almost every game. He was the run producer in the middle of the lineup and is expected to put up big numbers in 2016.
Big Storylines This Season:
1.) Freshman starting on the infield: Georgia may look a little different in 2016. The team has two freshman positioned at second and first base. Freshman LJ Talley is slated to get significant time at second base and Adam Sasser is slated to platoon at first. These positions are important storylines as each need to be in rhythm for Georgia to go far this season.
2.) Pitching Staff Returns: Georgia is expected to have two pitchers return to the starting lineup this season. Junior Robert Tyler returns fully healthy from a forearm injury suffered last season. He is an 2nd-team preseason All-American and looks to be drafted high in the draft. Another pitcher returning is Heath Holder. He suffered a Tommy John injury and has returned to earn a weekend starter spot. He also pitched a no-hitter this fall in preparation for the season.
3.) Scott Stricklin’s third season: This is a big season for Stricklin’s tenure at Georgia. He has finally put his imprint of the team and has experienced players of his choosing. It is up to him to put a competitive team on the field and take advantage of a season that could be tough to conquer.
Big Storylines Last Season
1.) Seven Starters getting drafted in MLB Draft: The Bulldogs had several key players depart to the professional ranks. The list was headlined by Ryan Lawlor, who was drafted in the 8th round by the Atlanta Braves. Others getting drafted was Jared Cheek, Jared Walsh and Taylor Hicks.
2.) Keegan McGovern made All-Freshman team: The freshman was the fifth Bulldog player to be selected to the team. He batted .268 with three homers last season. He was the first Bulldog to be named to the team since Sean McLaughlin in 2013.
3.) Georgia misses SEC tournament: Only 12 teams make the SEC postseason and they fail just short after losing its last two games at home. They didn’t get a chance to make the NCAA tournament and finished with an under .500 record. It was the first time in years that Georgia didn’t make the tournament.