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Post Will odd-even history hold up for the 2010 Diamond Dawgs?

Friday February 19, 2010

With the temperature inching up over 40 late this week, it must be time for baseball season. We all know about Georgia’s recent odd success in even-numbered years, but that biennial success will be put to the test this year. The Diamond Dawgs lost a lot of firepower and experience from its lineup, and they’ll be altering their approach this season in order to compensate for those losses.

The 2010 season kicks off this weekend as the Diamond Dawgs head to Texas for a tournament that will have them play Baylor and Duke twice. Georgia opens the year ranked #22 by Baseball America and were picked by the conference’s coaches to finish 3rd in the SEC East behind perennial Florida and South Carolina. If the Diamond Dawgs are going to make another even-year trip to Omaha, they’ll have to battle through one of the nation’s ten toughest schedules to get there. Georgia made a large step towards sustaining success last year with a return trip to the NCAA Tournament, and extending that streak to a third straight postseason appearance is the baseline for expectations this year.

With so much turnover from year to year, I usually like to ease into the baseball season and see what and who emerges over the first month of the season. This team is very young, and they don’t have a lot of veterans on which to lean especially among the position players. Others are on the ball with more detailed previews, but it looks as if we can boil the outlook down to three things entering the season:

  • Georgia is going to be much more of a “small ball” team this year. They lost a lot of power in Poythress alone, and other players who moved on were no slouches with the bat either. They have the speed to play that style of ball. The question is whether the team can be disciplined, smart, and execute well enough to manufacture runs or if we’re really talking about a team that just has no power and will struggle to score runs.
  • Pitching should be deep and strong. If runs will be at a premium, you’d better be able to keep the other guy from scoring. Georgia is confident that their pitching staff can do just that. There’s a good group of starters, an experienced bullpen, and McRee hoping to return to form.
  • If there’s a strength among the position players, it’s in the outfield. Johnathan Taylor, Zach Cone, and Peter Verdin are well-known to fans, and they should make a big jump from their freshman seasons. They’re solid defenders, quick, and can do some damage on the bases. Georgia’s top infielder is another sophomore – 3B Colby May who earned Freshman All-American honors last season.

The opening weekend tournament format with a quick four games in three days will give the team an early hint whether that pitching depth and strength is as advertised.

Friday: Georgia vs. Baylor, 6 p.m. ET (WRFC 960 AM; georgiadogs.com)
Saturday: Georgia vs. Duke, 6 p.m. ET (WRFC 960 AM; georgiadogs.com)
Sunday: Georgia vs. Duke, 11 a.m. ET (WRFC 960 AM; georgiadogs.com) Georgia vs. Baylor, 3 p.m. ET (WGAU 1340 AM, georgiadogs.com)

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