HARTSVILLE, S.C.- The Coker College baseball program will embark on another season in 2018 and the Cobras are more than ready to get their campaign underway. Head Coach Luke Harrigan anticipates a great year for his club moving into the spring.
With a winter season that has filtered sub-freezing temperatures and snow, mixed with 70-degree days, Harrigan has had to battle the elements at practice. Nonetheless, the leader of the Cobras has his team ready to roll for 2018.
It was also announced, junior right-handed pitcher Griffin Hollifield was named to the SAC preseason All-Conference First Team as a reliever. Last season with the Cobras, Hollifield recorded a 2.06 ERA in 48.0 innings, striking out 24 and walked seven. Head Coach Luke Harrigan said, "Griffin's best quality is how hard he competes. He was a staple in our bullpen all of last year and we look forward to that continued success."
"We've been working a lot this offseason on getting back to fundamentals, getting better defensively and at the plate," Harrigan said. "We've been able to intrasquad a good bit and our senior leadership has picked up as well."
Additionally, Harrigan has added Sam Bashioum as the Navy and Gold's new pitching coach. "Sam and I have coached against each other in the past; when he was with the powerhouse at Seton Hill," Harrigan remarked. "Sam is a great coach with a sound philosophy and an impressive work ethic. He's a perfect fit into our program."
The Cobras will open up their season at Tom J. New Field at Dave Schmotzer Stadium with a two-day series on Feb. 3-4 against the Chowan Hawks. Coker will play their first 12 games at home in the 2018 season, before traveling to Claflin in a midweek slate on Feb. 20. South Atlantic Conference play ramps up the following weekend, Feb. 23-24, when the Navy and Gold travel to Catawba.
"We're looking forward to getting into conference play this season," Coker's skipper explained. "This year's club will be competitive and hopefully their play pays off. In doing so it will help continue to build our program, with the goal of bringing in solid signing classes."
Notably, Coker will host all three conference foes from Tennessee: Lincoln Memorial, Tusculum, and Carson-Newman. "That's a huge advantage for our program," Harrigan mentioned. "They are strong programs who often make it to the NCAA tournament, so to be able to play them at home is awesome for our guys."
Moving into the spring, Harrigan spoke on a few goals he has for his team. "I believe we can get to 30 wins this year. With a strong conference schedule, if we can get to 30 wins, it will set us up inside the top-three in the conference. In doing so, having a good seed into the tournament will hopefully land a regional bid. That would be huge for the Coker baseball program."
Coker will also have senior leadership in their infield with Bryson Conner and Thomas Lopez. "These two have been a staple in our lineup for a while," Harrigan stated. "The success that the team has this season will be attributed to what these guys bring to the table, not only with their on-field play, but their leadership."
In 45 games last season, Connor collected a .294 / .413 / .412 slashline, with 35 runs scored, 28 RBI, and 14 extra base hits. Lopez provided the power for Coker, batting .306 with a .472 slugging percentage, driving in 36, with nine doubles and five home runs.
As mentioned, Coker will begin its season at home with a two-day series with Chowan University, holding doubleheaders on Feb. 3-4, with game one beginning at 12 p.m. and game two starting roughly 30 minutes after the conclusion of game on for both days.