Friday, February 15 • 7:30 pm vs. No. 6 West Florida • Bob Stein Stadium
Saturday, February 16 • 4:30 pm vs. Millersville • Bob Stein Stadium
Sunday, February 17 • 3:30 pm vs. North Georgia • Bob Stein Stadium
By James Vallone
DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The Shorter baseball team will take part in the North Georgia Invitational, where they will play three games in three days.
The first game will pair the Hawks (0-7) versus Gulf South Conference foe No. 6 West Florida (6-0) in a non-conference match up on Friday night. A trio of pitchers from West Florida earned a spot on the Tino Martinez Division II Player of the Year watch list, announced by College Baseball Lineup on Monday. Senior Bobby Parker, and juniors Dayan Rodriguez and Austin Southall earned the preseason honor. While center fielder Dustin Saulmon as named Gulf South Conference Player of the Week on Tuesday after leading the Argonauts to a three-game sweep at Rollins. Saulmon hit .455 over the weekend, highlighted by a 4-for-5 performance on Sunday with a double, triple and four runs scored. The senior center fielder leads West Florida with a .476 batting average through the first six games of the season. Five of his 10 hits have been for extra bases, and he also leads the team with 10 runs and seven stolen bases.
Saturday afternoon, the Hawks will face the Marauders of Millersville (1-2) who have yielded double digit runs in two of the three games played to start the season. Millersville erupted for 13 runs on 15 hits and withstood a late Winston-Salem State rally to earn its first win of 2013 by a 13-11 score. Eight different Marauders recorded a hit, leading the way was Evan King's 4-for-4 day that included three stolen bases, with the four hits matching a career-high for King. Zach Stone went 3-for-4 with a double, homer, walk and two RBIs.
The finale will pit the Hawks against the home team, the North Georgia Saints (1-5). University of North Georgia senior Derek Hooper has been named to the watch list for the fourth annual Tino Martinez Division II Player of the Year, a list that includes 151 names of the top amateur student-athletes from across the nation in NCAA Division II baseball. Hooper, a 5-10 outfielder from Sharpsburg, Ga., finished the 2012 season batting .314 with 40 runs scored and another 20 runs batted in. He recorded at least three hits in 10 games last season, including a season-high four in a 17-2 win over Davis & Elkins on February 11. He was named to the Peach Belt Conference All-Academic team and earned PBC Silver Scholar honors from the league as well. Last weekend, the Saints defeated the King College Tornado 11-9, a win that marked head coach Tom Cantrell's 500th win of his career at North Georgia and 677th of his career as a collegiate head baseball coach.
The Hawks are led by Willie Lewis, who is batting .364 and already has swiped four stolen bases, along with Jesse Gavigan and Darrius Jennings, each have scored three runs so far this season. Michael Miranda and Walker Borneman have each provided homeruns thus far.