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Milligan baseball begins new era Friday, T&F sweeps AAC awards again

Kyle Stafford • Jan 31, 2019 at 4:57 PM

As the calendar turns to February, the Milligan College baseball team will be launching a new season under head coach David Grewe, who is in his first season at the helm, with a trip to the University of South Carolina Beaufort for a three-game set beginning Friday.

One of the main points Grewe has tried to establish since taking over the program is a new culture that will lead to success over the long haul.

“Right now it is a culture-building process,” says Grewe. “The biggest emphasis is about competing, dominating 17 inches both from a pitcher’s perspective and a hitter’s perspective. For us, the real big focus that we have spent most of our time concentrating on is building team cohesiveness, being all in and really being a culture of excellence.”

SENIORS NEED TO SET THE TONE

The senior class will be looked upon to provide leadership among the club and set the tone for the future of the program, according to Grewe. There are 11 seniors on the roster led by Camron Harper, Jeffrey Mefford and Brandon Laboy.

Harper is coming off a 2018 season in which he started a team-high 13 games from the mound and posted a 4.47 ERA over 86.2 innings of work. The senior was one of the best in the country at limiting walks, finishing No. 30 nationally in walks allowed per nine innings. Offensively, Harper provided a solid punch with a .333 average and he drove in 16 runs.

Mefford will join Harper in the rotation and provides solid experience after starting 10 games and striking out 55 batters in only 54 innings of work.

On the offensive end, Laboy will help provide some thump in the lineup after finishing third on the team in home runs last season with three. Laboy also drove in 19 runs for the Buffs in 2018.

HALL AND SMITH AMONG TOP NEWCOMERS

Freshman Chance Hall and junior Kirby Smith are among a handful of newcomers on the roster, and will be looked upon to make an impact right away.

Hall, a product of Johnson City, is listed as a pitcher and outfielder on the roster, and has some great potential according to Grewe. Smith, a catcher, may have to carry a pretty big load in his first season as he will be one of the more experienced catchers on the roster.

A LOOK AT THE SCHEDULE

The Buffs host a tournament on Friday, Feb. 8 through Sunday, Feb. 10 at Johnson City’s TVA Credit Union Stadium for their first home contests of the season. Milligan will match up against Huntington University, University of Rio Grande and Concordia College in the three-day tournament.

Overall, Milligan will host nine series at Anglin Field along with three midweek games throughout the season. Appalachian Athletic Conference play begins Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2 for the Buffs when they square off against Truett McConnell.

“We have a very difficult early season schedule when you look at our conference schedule,” Grewe said. “For us, we’re going to battle through some really tough competition and I think that will help us if we stay positive and focused.”

MEN’S INDOOR TRACK & FIELD MAKES JUMP IN POLLS

In the latest NAIA Indoor Track & Field polls, the men’s team jumped eight spots up to No. 30, while the women’s team remained nationally ranked at No. 34.

In the regional rankings, the women’s squad ranks No. 1 in the South Region by a wide margin. The Buffs have accumulated 401.77 points, which is 92.67 points ahead of the next closest team in Brenau.

The men rank No. 2 in the South Region and are 45.78 points ahead of the next closest school, William Carey.

The success of the Buffs was recognized at the conference level as they swept the AAC athlete of the week awards. Liz Maller and Erica Stone captured the honor on the women’s side while Tons Ferguson and Tim Thacker won the men’s honor.

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