After winning the 2014, 2015, and 2016 ACCC championships and claiming a 3rd place finish in the 2016 and 2016 NJCAA Alpine Bank JUCO World Series, the Pirates fell short of a four-peat in 2017 after climbing as high as #4 in the NJCAA poll. However, the Pirates return a stout pitching staff and are poised to make another run at the ACCC Title. The key for the pre-season # 12 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 2018 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 a sophomore heavy staff that was tops in the ACCC in nearly every significant category. The Pirate arms will be led by sophomore All American RHP Casey Cobb (10-4, 96 K’s, 1.29 ERA), a University of Alabama signee who won the ACCC pitchers triple crown in 2017. Following Cobb in the rotation will be sophomore lefty, Cole Ganopulos (University of South Carolina signee, 6-0, 1.33 ERA, 32 K’s), sophomore transfer RHP Jacob Menders (VMI signee) and battle for the fourth spot will come down to sophomore RHP Charles Crosby (Samford University signee, 4-3, 2.51 ERA, 41 K’s), sophomore Auburn University transfer Joe Gahm, sophomore lefty Carson Hicks (3-0, 2.67 ERA, 31 K’s) and redshirt freshman lefty, Joe Taylor, a Kennesaw State University transfer.
Expect the majority of the relief pitching to fall on the shoulders of a mix of freshmen and returning and transfer sophomores. Right handers, freshmen Chase Patrick, Brycen Jones and Evan Baber will see most of their work out of the pen with freshman Austin Wojick contributing, as well. The left handed side of the bullpen will consist of freshmen, Coleman Barbee and Chris Bergmoser. The Pirates return their closer in RHP Sawyer Steele (5-1, 4 saves, 2.82 ERA, 41 K’s) with Georgia Southern transfer, Hunter Phillips filling in the same role. Expect to see Gahm, Crosby, Hicks and Taylor seeing time as both starter and reliever, as well.
Around the infield diamond, the Pirates will have a completely new starting infield, but will not be without experience. Depth is plenty, so there will certainly be some interchangeable parts in the early part of the season. With a team full of former shortstops, with the exception of our true first basemen, expect all of the following players to see action at all 4 infield positions: Returnees Fuzzy Furr (.319, 7 2B, 1 HR, 17 RBI’s), returning All-Conference performer, John Devine (.404, 8 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 38 RBI, 12 SB), Jack Copley (.347, 2 HR, 11 RBI’s) and Jay Meuse, who sat out in 2017 but makes his return in the middle infield this season. New to the team but not new to college baseball are transfer infielders Parker McCoy (Georgia Tech), Michael Feliz (Notre Dame), Rankin Woley (LSU) and Jonathan Lee (West Georgia). Freshmen Davis Schwartz and Andrew Greckel round out the potential pieces to the Pirate infield. Additionally, expect to see most of these players roaming the outfield, also.
The Pirates will have a new look behind the dish in rocket armed freshman, and former Georgia Tech signee, Kale Ledford. Ledford is also one of the top offensive threats for the Pirates in 2018. Backing up Ledford will be Columbus State transfer, Parker Enright and true freshman Jack Lipson.
The outfield will return 2/3 of its starting outfield in CF Isaac Phillips (.315, 9 2B, 2 3B, 39 RBI’s) and LF Tre Kirklin (.347, 9 2B, 4 HR, 22 RBI’s and an ACCC leading 30 SB). Along with John Devine, who literally plays every position on the field, expect to see the dynamic power hitting freshman, Jason Rooks in right field. Rooks was a 37th round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves last year. Along with those four, look for sophomore EJ Ranel and freshman speedster Carson Allison to log significant time in the outfield.