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By Zach Potter | email@example.com
Radford Baseball is selected to finish third in the Big South Conference this coming season, in the latest coach’s pre-season poll.
This is good news for an already talented Highlander squad, who are eager to finish better than last years 14-13 record in conference play.
However, Radford’s first game of the season will against a 12th ranked East Carolina team on Feb. 15.
This year’s 2019 squad hopes to avoid the dismay of last year, which saw many key players out with injuries. Senior pitcher Zack Ridgely, the 2017 Big South Player of the year, is ready to return to action after redshirting last year because of injury.
Ridgely posted huge numbers last time out, in 2017, for the Highlanders. He posted a 7-5 record, while also managing an impressive 2.84 ERA (Earned run average) as well. Also, with that, Ridgely allowed opposing hitters to a dismal .214 batting average.
Head Coach Joe Raccuia stated, “Zack is the best pitcher in the league when he’s at full strength,” talking about Ridgely’s return. His addition back in the bullpen will be plenty of good news for a team looking to make a run for the conference title.
Also returning for the Highlanders, senior Kyle Butler, who hit for a .246 average with 30 RBIs (Runs batted in), will be transitioning from second base to center field. If the move works smoothly, the Highlanders would be benefited with talented freshman David Bryant. Bryant has impressed, in pre-season, with his athleticism and defensive work.
Another infielder will also be moving to the outfield from his spot on first base, Spencer Horwitz, 2018 Big South First Team All-Conference selection.
Horwitz, a junior, hit for a .288 average with seven home runs, while also tallying 43 RBIs. His heavy hitting will look to help the Highlanders as he makes his push for his professional career. Coach Raccuia said he expects Horwitz to be ready to move on to professional baseball after this season.
Andrew Szamski, a red-shirt senior, put up incredible numbers in 2018 as well. He posted a .336 batting average, with four home runs, and also hit 21 RBIs. He will also be thrown in the outfield, filling into the right fielder spot.
The 2019 squad will be getting a player from neighboring Virginia Tech, J.D. Mundy. Mundy will be bringing some serious power to the Highlanders line up. As a Hokie, Mundy hit a .257 average and slammed home seven home runs. He also managed 23 RBIs as well.
The 2019 Highlander baseball team is talented from the bottom up this year. As long as this squad can avoid the injury bug this season, a first-place finish doesn’t seem too unlikely.
However, the Highlanders will be chasing Campbell who is the overwhelming favorite to win the Big South this year. Campbell is coming over an impressive 2018 campaign, where they went 21-6 in conference play.
Radford will also be chasing High Point, who is predicted to finish 2nd in the pre-season poll, and Winthrop, who is also predicted to finish 3rd tying in votes with the Highlanders.
The Highlanders hope to put last seasons demons behind them as the new season approaches. Winning the conference shouldn’t be too much of a reach, and we might even see a post-season run as we look forward to the 2019 baseball season.