By Matt Green
Hawks (1-11, 0-0 GSC) at North Alabama (6-4, 0-0 GSC)
Saturday, March 2; 2 and 4 pm
Sunday, March 3: 2 pm
FLORENCE, Ala. – The Shorter Baseball Hawks open Gulf South Conference play this Saturday and Sunday, March 2 and 3, as they travel to Florence, Ala., for a three-game set with the University of North Alabama.
Shorter and North Alabama will play a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 2 pm ET with the series finale to follow at 2 pm on Sunday. The weekend series is the first conference series of the season for both teams.
The Hawks (1-11) are hoping to end a two-game skid entering this weekend's series. Shorter defeated North Georgia, 4-2, on Feb. 17 for its first win of the season, but since, have dropped narrow decisions to Stillman (5-3) and Columbus State (7-4), both on the road. Five of Shorter's 11 losses have come by two runs or less.
Shorter could be without centerfielder Willie Lewis for the series against the Lions, but will rely on several other standouts to carry the load in his absence.
Freshman Walker Borneman is batting .308 with a team-high nine RBI in his 12 appearances. Borneman has come on strong as of late, hitting safely in seven straight games and having recorded at least one RBI in five of his last six outings. Borneman went 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of RBI in Shorter's loss to Columbus State on Tuesday and had a three-hit day in the win over North Georgia.
Junior infielder Jesse Gavigan boasts a .250 average and is tied for the team lead with three doubles and senior slugger Michael Miranda has upped his batting average to .195 after a torrid last two games during which the first baseman has gone 5-for-9 with a double. Miranda was 3-for-5 with two runs scored against Columbus State.
On the mound, Shorter figures to unveil its trio of Stuart Charleston, Cameron Rich and Russell Crosby. Charleston paces Shorter's staff with a 3.04 ERA and 17 strikeouts against just six walks in a team-best 23.2 innings pitched. Rich has a 3.24 ERA and 15 strikeouts while allowing just six earned runs in 16.2 innings and Crosby has walked a staff low five batters among Shorter pitchers that have tossed at least seven innings.
The Lions (6-4) are coming off two 30-win seasons, including a 39-18 campaign a year ago that saw North Alabama advance to the GSC Tournament semifinals as the No. 4 seed and qualify for the NCAA Regionals. North Alabama is unbeaten in six home games this season.
Offensively, North Alabama is led by sophomore infielder Dylan Boston, who is hitting .500 (19-for-38) with a team-best two homers and 11 RBI. Eight of Boston's 19 hits have been doubles and his on base percentage of .568 has been aided by six free passes.
North Alabama possesses a balanced pitching staff that has struck out 80 batters through 10 games. Chad Boughner has tossed a staff-high 13 innings during which he has fanned 22 batters and posted a 2.08 ERA.
Fans not making the trip to Florence can follow the action live by accessing the live statistics and video links on the North Alabama Athletics website. You can access the page here.