2018 Baseball Preview: Southern
2017 Record: 17-27, 10-14 SWAC (Fourth in West Division)
Key Returners: John Pope, Ashanti Wheatley, Jacob Snyder
Key Losses: Phillip Williams
For the first time in 32 years, there is a new head coach for the Southern baseball program. Kerrick Jackson begins his first season at the helm of the Jaguar baseball program, and will look to continue its success, following the retirement of long time head coach Roger Cador at the end of last season.
Jackson brings a lot of experience to the Southern baseball program, and will have some good pieces returning from last year’s squad to work with in 2018.
One of those key returners is 2018 preseason first team All-SWAC selection at DH, John Pope. Last season, Pope, had a .349 batting average, which was second on the team, led the team in on base percentage (.558), had a .424 slugging percentage, was second in runs scores (32), first in hits (56), first in RBIs (43), and led the team with eight home runs in 2017. Jackson will look to Pope to put up similar numbers in 2018 for Southern to improve.
Another big returner for Southern and Jackson in 2018 is pitcher Jacob Snyder. Snyder led the Jaguars with a 2.89 ERA, wins (4), was third on the team with 56.0 innings pitched, and struck out 29 batters in 2017. Jackson will look to Snyder to lead the Jaguars pitching rotation this season.
Jackson will need to replace the production of Phillip Williams, who led the Jaguars in multiple hitting statistics last season. Williams led the Jaguars with a 3.47 batting average, was second on the team in slugging percentage (.438), first in on base percentage (.463), and tied for second in hits with 42. Jackson will need to find a way to replace the production of his most consistent bat from last season in 2018.
This season will be an interesting one for the Jaguars with a new head coach for the first time in 32 years. Jackson will try to establish the culture that he wants to create this season, and build for the future.