South Alabama opens the 2023 baseball season by playing host to the Jaguar Classic. Other teams in the tournament are UAB, Eastern Kentucky and Northwestern State.
The Jaguars play Northwestern State on Friday, Eastern Kentucky on Saturday and UAB on Sunday. The Blazers open with Eastern Kentucky on Friday and play Northwestern State on Saturday.
South Alabama was 31-23 a year ago but lost quickly in the Sun Belt Tournament. South Alabama right-hander Jeremy Lee, a Freshman All-American in 2021, returns to the mound after missing the 2022 season with an arm injury. He was 3-2 with a save in 11 appearances as a freshman. Lee is slated to start in the opener.
UAB was 31-25 in Casey Dunn's first season at the school, marking the most wins for a first-year UAB baseball coach. The Blazers return 23 players from that team. UAB and South Alabama have only played twice in each program's history.
*Preseason All-American Grayson Hitt is scheduled to be on the mound as 20th-ranked Alabama plays host to Richmond in Friday's season opener. The 6-foot-3 left-hander went 4-3 with a 5.34 earned run average as Sunday's starter last season.
Richmond manager Tracy Woodson is a former major player who was part of the Los Angeles Dodgers World Series championship team in 1988. The Spiders' Sunday starter Brenden Argomaniz was 6-0 with a 3.70 earned run average last season.
*Auburn, the 17th-ranked team in the country, enters the season with more newcomers (20) than returnees. Eighteen players return from last season's World Series participants. Auburn had eight major league draft picks last season, including five pitchers.
Saturday starter Joseph Gonzales was 7-4 with a 3.22 earned run average in 15 appearances with 14 starts last season.
*Jacksonville State begins the season at Georgia. The Bulldogs were 36-23 last season and went 1-2 in the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional. It marks the first time since 2019 that the Gamecocks did not begin the season on their home field.
Friday's starter AJ Causey made 25 appearances on the mound for Jax State last season. He had nine saves, and an earned run average of 2.61 with just one start. When not pitching, he will play first base for the Gamecocks.
*Troy brought in 13 transfer portal players and five freshmen. One of the transfer portal players – Zach Fruit – will get the start Saturday in the second of a three-game series against visiting Evansville. Fruit, a 6-foot-4 right-hander from Eastern Michigan, had 65 strikeouts in 67.2 innings last season.
Sophomore Brady Fuller, who will start on Friday, had a team-high 14 starts on the mound as a freshman for the Trojans.
*Alabama State begins the quest for another NCAA Regional appearance. The Hornets finished 34-25 last season, won the SWAC East Division title, captured the SWAC Tournament and played in the Knoxville Regional. The Hornets play host to Purdue Fort Wayne on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Alabama State junior Corey King was selected as the SWAC Preseason Player of the Year. King hit .355 with a conference-best 87 hits last season. He added 16 doubles, 14 home runs and 64 RBIs.
*Montevallo is seven games into its season, with Division II teams opening earlier than Division I. The Falcons are 6-1 and ranked No. 12 in the country. It's the highest ranking in school history. Several Gulf South Conference teams begin conference play this week, but the Falcons don't begin until next weekend. This weekend, they play host to Walsh College (Ohio) with a doubleheader on Saturday and a single game on Sunday.
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