Seniority a Strength for Diamond Braves
By Jonathan Bym, Editor
Senior leadership is in full force this season for the UNCP baseball team as the Braves have 17 seniors to provide experience at almost every position on the field, especially on the mound.
The Braves return their starting weekend rotation of junior Logan Cook, senior Garrett Hickman and senior Andy Sullivan. Senior pitcher Jordan DeLoatch got the start on several weekday games last year.
After going down last season to injury, Connor Pratt and Jimmie Davis return for their senior season. Pratt was one of the weekend starters last season before injury, and Davis came in as both a starter and a reliever at times during his junior season.
UNCP led the nation in doubles last season and returns a lot of the top hitters from last season.
After having the best season of his three-year career in Pembroke, third baseman Jordan Edgerton was drafted in the ninth round, the 283rd pick, by the Atlanta Braves in the Major League draft in June. Edgerton signed with the organization and played the rest of the summer with the Danville Braves, the Atlanta Braves’ rookie league affiliate.
Dalton Knight, Ben Schmucker, Zade Denton and Drew Cole return for their final season for the Braves and were some of the top contributors on offense last season.
Knight was the Braves’ DH last season and had 50 RBIs. Denton had a team-high 20 doubles last season and will be the lone returning infielder for UNCP.
Schmucker, Cole and Victor Zecca started the majority of the games in the outfield, and Schmucker is the leading home run hitter from last season when he hit eight.
Chad Whitehead split time behind the plate last season with senior Max Gagnon, but now should see most of the action behind the plate. Whitehead batted .337 last season, the third best average among returning players.
The biggest question entering the season is who will fill the shoes of Edgerton at third base, Daniel Fraga at second base and Brett Huffman at first base. Last season, underclassmen like Cody Trogdon and Drew Beaver saw times at third and second base and could be possible options for the Braves.
UNCP opens the season with the first 10 games at home that ends with a three-game series against Columbus State to open the Peach Belt Conference schedule. Columbus State is one of four teams from the PBC ranked in the top 40 preseason poll. The Braves play three of the four teams ranked in the preseason poll, during the always-tough PBC schedule.
First pitch this season for the Braves comes on Feb. 1 as the Braves host Anderson for a doubleheader.
Photo by Jonathan Bym. Drew Cole and Drew Beaver meet Jordan Edgerton at home plate in a game last season. Edgerton was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the MLB draft after he graduated.