Tickets remain for Dale Murphy visit to Mercer

Macon TelegraphJanuary 5, 2013 

A little more than a month remains before one of the most beloved athletes in Atlanta sports history makes a visit to Mercer.

                Tickets remain available for Mercer's fourth annual First Pitch Classic featuring longtime Atlanta Braves outfielder Dale Murphy as the guest speaker.

                The dinner is at 7 p.m. on Feb. 13 with an autograph sessions at 6 p.m.

Murphy is the fourth member of the Braves family to speak at the banquet, which comes only a few days before Mercer opens the college baseball season.

                Former outfielder Jeff Francoeur was the first speaker, in 2009, followed by Gordon Beckham, who played at Georgia and had just completed a quality rookie season with the Chicago White Sox.

                Former pitcher John Smoltz entertained a large crowd in 2011 while Chipper Jones talked only weeks before his final season as a major leaguer a year ago.

                Murphy played 18 seasons in the majors after being picked in the first round of the 1974 draft. He debuted with Atlanta two years later, racking up consecutive MVP awards in 1982 and 1983, the youngest player in history to do so.

                The Portland, Ore. native was selected to the All-Star game seven times, earned five Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger awards. His stats in 1983 were superb  as the only player in history to top .300 with more than 30 home runs, 120 RBI, 130 runs, 90 walks and 30 stolen bases in a season.

                Murphy was dominant in the 1980s, when he led the majors in homers and RBI and the NL in several other categories. He left Atlanta in 1990 for Philadelphia, and retired from Colorado after the 1993 season.

                Murphy followed Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews, Warren Spahn and Phil Niekro as having his number retired with the Braves.

                Mercer opens the season Feb. 15 with a three-day visit in the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Sarasota, Fla., where it will play Ohio State, St. John’s and Notre Dame. The Bears, who went 38-21 last season, welcome Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 22 in the home opener.

                For more information, contact Mercer assistant Ben Gillespie at 301-2738 or firstpitchclassic@mercer.edu.

 

Around Mercer/A-Sun

                Mercer isn't the only A-Sun women's team to battle injuries before the season started.

                A-Sun co-favorite Florida Gulf Coast lost 6-foot-3 guard Whitney Knight, an all-freshman pick a year ago, to the dreaded torn ACL.

                Mercer's Briana Williams suffered the same fate in September, only a few weeks before Knight went down.

                Knight averaged eight points and 3.8 rebounds on 17.1 minutes as a freshman and as perhaps the program's most touted signee.

                The Eagles got 13 points from the seven true freshmen that played in Wednesday's 70-41 win over Mercer.

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                Former A-Sun member Belmont is adjust well to the Ohio Valley Conference.

The Bruins entered Saturday night's game at Tennessee Tech 10-4 overall and 1-0 in OVC play, and are 21st in RPI.

                Belmont has swept city rival Lipscomb, 89-60 and 100-66. The Bruins have no other current A-Sun teams on this year's schedule, but have played former members Central Florida and Jacksonville State (an OVC member).

 

Around Georgia College/Peach Belt

                Georgia College will make its annual run toward a Peach Belt Conference baseball championship on Feb. 2 when it opens the season at home with a three-game series against Mars Hill.

                Then comes the yearly test against No. 8 Tampa on the road, one of three Georgia College opponents that ended last season ranked.

Home games against North Greenville and Clark Atlanta precede the opening of PBC play on Feb. 23 against Flagler.

                Alumni weekend is March 23-24 when Georgia College hosts Augusta State. Miracle League Day is April 3 when the Bobcats welcome Toccoa Falls.

                Georgia College finished 29-21 last season, and returns all-conference designated hitter Cody Moss and reliever Matt LaMothe.

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                The Georgia College women's tennis team will open the 2012-13 season in the same spot it finished 2011-12: No. 19 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division II preseason poll.

                The spring season starts in February.

 

Quotable

                Daniel Coursey has struggled this season shooting, suffering seven games out of 13 under 35 percent from the floor (entering Saturday against Kennesaw State).

                And the 6-foot-10 junior at Mercer was having another one of those nights against Florida Gulf Coast before scoring five points - including a putback on a possession he had started with an easy miss underneath - in overtime to help Mercer to the win.

                His first thought after the miss was letting his teammates down. His second thought?

                "Hoffman's reaction," Coursey said, with a smile, of head coach Bob Hoffman, not always the picture of calm on the sidelines. "He's been freaking out on me lately."

 

 

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