After winning the 2014, 2015, and 2016 ACCC championships and claiming a 3rd place finish in last season’s NJCAA Alpine Bank JUCO World Series, the Pirates are poised to make another run at the ACCC Title. The key for the pre-season # 2 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 basically an entire new pitching staff. With continued hard work, dedication, and the “Dirty Pirate” mentality, the 2017 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 a brand new pitching staff, with only a handful of returners from the 2016 club. The Pirate arms will be led by freshmen RHP Casey Cobb, Sawyer Steele, Parker Boyle sophomore transfers RHP Chandler Newman (Georgia Southern University) and LHP Pierce Smith (Darton State College), Auburn University transfer, freshman LHP Cole Ganopulos and freshman RHP Charles Crosby.
Expect the majority of the relief pitching to fall on the shoulders of more freshmen, a few sophomores and a transfer. Right handers, Alex Graulich, Hayden Siniard, and Kendall Marshall along with lefties JD Brown, Chris Bergmoser, Coleman Barbee, Carson Hicks and Stewart Tyler. Expect Garett Fowler and Tyler Elkins to handle the late inning relief and closing roles.
Around the infield diamond, the Pirates will return all 4 starters on the dirt, with 3B Jaylen Smith (.303, 10 2B, 4 HR, 34 RBI), SS Jayson Cook (.315, 20 RBI, 2 SB), 2B AJ Willoughby (.348, 13 2B, 10 HR, 60 RBI), and 1B Carson Hughes (.322, 15 2B, 4 HR, 51 RBI) anchoring the Pirate offense.
The Pirates will have a new look behind the dish in rocket armed freshman, Zach Cable, sophomore returner Nick Poskey (.348), and Auburn University transfer, Jon Foster, who will see plenty of time as a DH when he is not catching.
Also looking to see significant playing time will be John Devine and Jack Copley, who are both capable of playing all four infield positions with heavy hitting Fuzzy Furr and Brent Vallor expected to be a force in the 2017 Pirate lineup.
The outfield will return a handful of familiar faces in 2017, with only one seeing everyday action in 2016, in CF Brandon Hill (.279, 10 2B, 9 HR, 51 RBI, 22 SB), who is arguably the most dynamic player on the Pirate roster. Also returning from last season, will be medically redshirtted freshman, Isaac Phillips leading off and playing on one of the corners, with MJ Rookard (.244, 6 2B, 5 HR, 25 RBI), Kurt Ornowski (.273) and Caleb Lynn (.278) returning to battle for an outfield/DH spot. Additionally, look for big things out of dynamic speedster, true freshman Tre Kirklin, who will see significant action this season.