Jordan Broam, Business Manager
Returning with a senior class of 14 leaders, the Armstrong Pirates’ baseball team is eager to step onto the field for the season opener Jan. 31 against Paine College.
The Pirates ended their 2015 season with a 34-14 record and the Peach Belt Conference championship just out of reach. The team of 27 boasts a staggering 14 seniors on their roster, which has proven to be a significant talking point for the season.
Senior catch Berry Aldridge, who led the team last season with a .392 batting average and 4 homeruns, is optimistic for 2016, saying of the large senior class, “Leadership and team identity should be a strength for us.”
Senior Tyler Graham, who comes into the season with 2016 Preseason All-Conference Relief Pitcher honors as well as the reigning winner of the award from 2015, believes that a strong senior class such as this one will work together in order to create “one united leader” in setting a good example for the younger players and in leading the team to the championship.
With so many returning players, the focus of preseason was to build on the strengths the team already possesses, spending countless hours in the batting cages, on the field, and in the gym. Graham says, “I think with these new arms and new bats, we will be one of the teams to beat, if not the team to beat.”
Of the scheduled 50 games, 30 are competition for the PBC. Junior outfield Ryan Patterson is confident for the conference schedule this year and excited to play challenging games against rival USC-Aiken and Flagler.
“It doesn’t matter who we play or when or where. The only thing that matters is that they are in the way of us reaching our goals.”
Corey Kafka, senior pitcher recording a 2.98 ERA for last season, will return as a starting pitcher and Tyler Graham with a 2.55 ERA will transition into a starting pitcher position. Aldridge explains that, “a few guys are still fighting for the third spot [on the pitching staff.]”
Senior Jared Curry and Aldridge are the starting catchers for the Pirates and Aldridge says they “will likely [be designated hitters]” this season.”
All of the players interviewed about who to watch on the field replied with a unified answer of “everyone.” Graham says to “keep an eye out because everyone has a lot of talent… so if you come out, you’ll always see something big happening.
Come out to support your Armstrong Pirates this weekend as they match up with Paine College Sunday Jan. 31 at Grayson Stadium in a doubleheader. The first game is slated to begin at 2 p.m.