Chris Ferguson, Campus Carrier Asst. Sports Editor
|PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT ZIMMERMAN|
|Junior Casey Whitaker practicing his pitching as his teammates watch. The Vikings will open their season on Feb. 6 against Maryville College at home.|
With a season opener only days away, Berry baseball will begin their spring season against Maryville College at William R. Bowdoin field. Since the Vikings will have a home field advantage, it will be an exciting match up, and a great way to kick of the season.
Before the Vikings start their conference games, they have a series of tough matchups in preparation for these games. Last year, the Vikings played Emory University to a one-point game on two separate occasions. It was also at this time that Emory was ranked first in the nation according to NCAA archives. This year, the Vikings look to take on the Eagles in a home game on Feb. 21. This will be a great opportunity for the Vikings to settle the score right before their first conference game of the season against Oglethorpe College.
Looking deeper into the season, the Vikings will prepare to face the toughest opponent in the Southern Athletic Conference. Birmingham-Southern College is one of the best teams the Vikings have faced in the past, finishing fourth in the national tournament last year. The Vikings will keep the home field advantage, but will have to play their best to secure a victory.
The team has a majority of underclassmen on their roster, with only six seniors leading the pack. This means that they might have to rely on some of their younger talent in order to be successful this season.
Another element that the Vikings must adapt to is the addition of a new assistant coach to the current coaching staff. Assistant coach Kellen Greer was hired at the end of last year’s spring season in order to focus on the outfielders, base running and help with hitting. In his previous job, he coached 11 seasons at Sparkman High School in Harvest, Ala., where he compiled a 292-178 overall record. Under Greer, the program posted 10 consecutive playoff appearances from 2007-2016, had four Final Four appearances and finished as the Alabama state runner-up in 2014. It will be interesting to see him carry this success from his previous job into the collegiate level by coaching his first spring season with the Vikings.
The team will play a total of 40 games this season against 17 different opponents. This means they will be playing the most total games in a single season, in comparison to other Berry sports teams. With so many games ahead, the Vikings will need to rely on each other, the coaching staff and their loyal Berry fans.