Second-year head softball coach Jamie Grodecki hopes four home games to open the season can get the Bobcats off to a better start than last season’s 1-7 beginning.
Georgia College hosts Queens in a Saturday doubleheader and Catawba for two Sunday in a tournament at the Peeler Complex.
The Bobcats finished 15-35 overall, but a respectable 9-11 in Peach Belt Conference play.
Six starters are back, keyed by All-Peach Belt preseason selection Haley Burnett.
She led the Bobcats in average (.385), home runs (nine) and RBI (37), earning a variety of posteason honors.
Sophomore center fielder Whitney Okvist started all 50 games and batted .345 batted .345. She led the team in at-bats (174), hits (60), runs scored (38) and stolen bases (24), earning second-team all-conference honors.
Sabrina Chandler is the veteran returnee on the mound.
The senior was 9-13 with a 3.79 ERA in 131 innings, with 10 complete games and 24 starts.
Burnett was 2-15 with a 4.27 ERA in 16 starts with 105 innings.
Chandler and Burnett make up half of the small senior class. Georgia College’s roster lists 10 freshmen and sophomores and five juniors.
Dani Gallucci, a transfer from St. Petersburg College, is an infielder/pitcher expected to make an impact. She was an all-conference performer in both seasons at St. Petersburg.
Mikayla Sparks is a freshman infielder from Jones County hoping to crack the lineup. Logan Smith, a Tattnall Square grad, redshirted last season after transferring from Middle Georgia College.
Middle Georgia is still having a quality season, but the Lady Warriors are battling to get back into the National Junior College Athletic Association’s women’s basketball poll.
MGC is 3-3 since suffering its first loss of the season, 48-47 to East Georgia on Jan. 9.
The Lady Warriors dropped from 18th to 20th and then out of the poll. MGC was 13-4 entering Thursday night’s game against Andrew.
The NCAA updates its RPI once per week, and Mercer dropped six to 117 in the NCAA’s RPI and Belmont two to 96. That was updated on Monday.
CollegeRPI.com updates daily. Mercer improved from 113 on Sunday afternoon to 104 by Thursday afternoon in CollegeRPI, while Belmont jumped four spots to 92.
Both were ahead of the likes of No. 114 Georgia and No. 122 Butler on Sunday. Both teams dropped, Georgia to 120 and Butler to 127, by Thursday.
Five of Mercer’s seven losses have been to teams higher in the RPI (NCAA/CollegeRPI): Missouri (12/12), Seton Hall (32/33), South Dakota State (64/64), Belmont (96/92) and Tulsa (109/113).
Mercer’s two-poll average of 110.5 is a hair ahead of Tulsa’s 111.
CollegeRPI is projecting, as of Thursday afternoon, Mercer to finish the regular season 92nd with a 23-7 (vs. Division I opponents) overall record and 16-2 in the A-Sun.
Belmont checks in at No. 72 at 22-8 and 15-3, meaning the site is picking Mercer to win the regular-season title by beating the Bruins in their huge showdown Feb. 25 at the University Center.
Jones visit nears sellout
Tickets remain for Tuesday’s visit by Atlanta Braves legend Chipper Jones as the guest speaker at Mercer’s “First Pitch Classic.”
A 6 p.m. autograph session precedes the 7 p.m. dinner and speech on the University Center arena floor.
Tickets for the autograph session and the dinner are sold as separate events. Tickets for the autograph session are $100 per person and are limited to the first 100 participants, while tickets for the dinner are $75 per person. All proceeds benefit the Mercer baseball program.
For ticket information, call 301-5218 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Atlanta pitcher John Smoltz was last year’s speaker, and former Atlanta outfielder Jeff Francoeur was the event’s first speaker.