After winning the 2014 and 2015 ACCC championships and claiming a 4th place finish in the NJCAA Alpine Bank JUCO World Series, the Pirates are poised to make another run at the ACCC Title. The key for the pre-season # 4 Pirates (according to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper) this year is the continued focus on the process of becoming a champion, looking past the high expectations that come with the success the program has achieved, as well as counting on a ton of new faces in the Pirate lineup. With continued hard work, dedication, and the “Dirty Pirate” mentality, the 2016 season hopes to be another year of significance for the Chattahoochee Valley Pirates.
There has always been one constant on an Adam Thomas coached baseball team – STRONG PITCHING. The Pirates will be led by virtually, an all-sophomore pitching staff, with only a handful of freshmen joining the 2016 staff. The Pirate arms will be led by sophomores, Chase Burks, who led the league in wins in 2015 with a 10-1 record, Jordan Lee (7-2, 2.40 ERA), Logan Haner (3-1, 2.86 ERA, 33 Ks/34 IP), Christian Vann (2-1, 1 save, 2.08 ERA), along with flame throwing Coastal Carolina transfer, Chase Adkins.
Competing for final rotation spots, in no particular order, will fall into the hands of freshman Jelani Clarington, Auburn sophomore transfer Garrett Deloney, and redshirt freshman, Brandon Sattenfield.
Expect the majority of the relief pitching to fall on the shoulders on a mix of true freshmen, sophomores and a couple of transfers. Right handers, Alex Graulich, Trent Simpson, and Cody Harrison along with lefties Jacob Ozley, JD Brown, dual role players MJ Rookard and Brandon Hill and hard throwing Stewart Tyler all having proved this fall to be more than capable of holding leads for the Pirate starters as both middle to late inning relief roles.
Around the infield diamond, there will be only one familiar name back in the Pirate lineup, as dynamite catcher, JT Thomas will anchor the defense. Certainly one of the top defensive catchers in the country, JT hit .317 with 17 RBI’s and threw out 15 of 19 attempted base runners.
Sophomore Trent Simpson (.311, 3 2B, 6 RBI) will share 1B and DH duties with freshmen Carson Hughes. Rounding out the infield will be a plethora of freshmen, as shortstop Jayson Cook will anchor the infield, with Jaylen Smith, Jay Meuse and Caleb Lynn taking the reins at third base and second base. Backing up JT Thomas behind the dish will be strong armed sophomore Frank Wager, while Tanner Davis, AJ Willoughby, and Nick Poskey will see time all over the field in 2016.
The outfield will return two familiar faces in 2016, in leadoff hitter, Nolan Greckel (.353, 6 2B, 29 RBI, 37 BB, .491 OB %), who will anchor down the right field position with power hitting Will Campbell (.318, 8 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 27 RBI) holding down the fort in left field. Arguably the most talented player on the Pirate roster, Brandon Hill will roam the green grass of centerfield at Howard Lake Field in 2016. Additionally, look for big things out of sophomore Tim Kennedy, as he will play all three outfield positions, allowing Campbell to DH, while MJ Rookard, Isaac Phillips, and Kurt Ornowski are poised to be difference makers in the Pirate lineup.