Expectations will be pretty high for Georgia College and shortstop Tanner Funk.
The senior has been named to the Peach Belt Conference’s preseason all-conference baseball team as well as to the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings preseason All-America list in the Southeast Region.
The senior from Missouri was joined by teammate Mike Guinane on the latter list while outfielder Josh Young is among the “players to watch” and Karsten Strieby among the “newcomers to watch.”
Funk made three All-America teams last season as well as first-team all-conference after batting .329 with 20 doubles and 54 RBI.
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Guinane was 9-1 with a 3.84 ERA, striking out 64 in 91-1/3 innings, earned an ABCA/Rawlings all-region second-team nod and second-team all-conference.
Young scored 46 runs and stole 30 bases while batting .291 in his first year as a starter.
The Bobcats open the season Friday with a doubleheader against King (Tenn.) with the first game starting at 2 p.m.
Georgia College is ranked 23rd in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll.
The Bobcats finished 35-17 overall last season and were second in the Peach Belt West at 15-9.
Funk is the cornerstone of the offense at shortstop, finishing second in average last season behind all-everything right fielder Shawn Ward (.398)
There is a solid core of experience coming back throughout the lineup for head coach Tom Carty.
Ward and catcher Richard Pirkle, another highly honored senior, are gone. Pirkle batted .301 with a team-high 12 homers. But Benton Yaun and Cody Maas have experience behind the plate, where they’re joined by transfer David Dubay as well as former Northside multi-sport standout Joe Scott, who redshirted last season.
Yaun and Maas shared first base last year as Pirkle again held down catcher.
Young and Patrick Daugherty should add some increase pop on offense.
Daugherty belted five homers with 29 RBI en route to a .291 average. Young in left and Daugherty in center have two outfield spots locked down with Ward vacating right. Ikaika Anderson started 26 games last season in the outfield and at DH. Daugherty adds some speed with 19 steals, second on the team last season.
Matthew Robinson started 15 games at second and Travis Echols 51 at third, and both return.
Strieby is a 6-foot-6, 235-pound transfer first baseman form Arizona Western College, where he was a teammate of Young two seasons ago.
Guinane is the only returning starter back on the mound. Former Baldwin standout Eric Pettepher and Jason Nicholas teamed to go 13-6 with 27 starts between them, so there is a gap.
Robinson was 3-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 20 appearances, and there’s some experience back with Taylor Hart (20 innings pitched, 2-1, 4.50 ERA), Walker McKinven (41-2/3 innings pitched, 1-2, 5.18 ERA). Replacing Tanner Moore’s team-high seven saves will be a concern.
Junior Taylor Hart, transfer Derek McGowan and freshman Alex Joplin are among those expected to contend for quality innings.
Georgia College opens the season with 12 straight home games.