For coach Greg Frady, last season is in the past.
Georgia State’s baseball program finished the 2018 season with a 26-29 (10-19 Sun Belt) record. But it’s a new season for Frady and his team, with his focus on the opportunities of the 2019 season.
Frady returns 19 players, nine of which are seniors. Accompanying those 19 are 13 newcomers, including nine freshmen. He referred to this year’s team as one that consists of two parts, the older players who have collegiate experience, and the freshmen who do not.
"I think our older guys and the coaching staff have a lot of confidence in our freshmen, and our freshmen feel very good about the way we are being led by our older players,” Frady said.
The older group is led by junior pitcher Hunter Gaddis. He was named preseason Pitcher of the Year in the Sun Belt after finishing the 2018 season with a 2.95 ERA. He takes the accolade as a boost of confidence for himself, and hope his teammates continue to build their trust in him to perform.
Gaddis said he feels confident in his pitching abilities and is working to repeat his mechanics to keep his consistency from last season.
Frady looks to Gaddis and senior Brandon Bell as players he said will lead by example. Bell is the Panthers’ top returning hitter, finishing last season with a .333 average.
He said he understands his position on the team to help his younger teammates and lead after the success he had in the 2018 season.
"I would like for them to use what their strengths are in the way of talking to the team, particularly the younger guys, and have a little more say as they continue to go through the season and grow,” Frady said.
And while the returning players brings a feeling of confidence to Frady, the newcomers bring a different energy to the field. Freshmen such as Ryan Watson, Joseph Brandon and Seth Clark have shown potential on the mound, while Josh Smith could be a potential starter for the Panthers, Frady said.
“I mean people can look at us and say we are really young, but all of our young guys have a lot of talent and they can really help us in a lot of different ways,” Bell said. “So I think even though we might look young on paper, we still are going to be a good team for sure.”
This group of newcomers has the opportunity to have an impact on this year’s team, Frady said. And while there is potential, he’s not looking for them to carry the load of the team.
“I’m going to use them in shorter spurts and find the right spots to get them in so they’re in the best confident mindset that they can be, and put them in a position where they can succeed,” Frady said.
The Panthers open their season with three home games -- against Richmond on Friday, followed by West Virginia on Saturday and Illinois-Chicago on Sunday.
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