ABAC Stallions to be young in 2020

Sam Bennett (left) tries a tag at third during a 2019 game against Florida State College at Jacksonville. He should be one of the returnees to the Stallions’ lineup next season.

TIFTON — Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College’s baseball team can’t wait for 2020

The Stallions, Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association conference champs in 2018, did not have the best of seasons this year. Beset by injuries, the squad went 15-32 and finished at the bottom of the conference at 9-21.

A handful of players are to return for head coach Brandon Reeder, plus “a lot of new signees and a couple of transfers.” He said he expects a good mix of athletes. Many are “guys coming from winning (high school) programs.” Reeder said that overall the Stallions will be a young team.

He said Sam Bennett, Dustin Doscher, Kody Noviello, Tyler McConnell, Brett Potts, Ben Tuten and Austin Walls are expected to be back in uniform for the Stallions after playing as freshmen.

Walls, Tuten, Noviello and Bennett are all infielders. McConnell is listed as an infielder and outfielder. Potts pitched and Doscher caught.

Bennett and Walls knocked in 24 runs each, according to NJCAA stats, second most among all ABAC players in 2019. Tuten was just behind at 23 RBIs. Bennett also hit for average at .327.

Doscher hit .322 in 27 games. Potts went 5-7 with a 3.99 ERA.

Returnees also include Alex VanDerStok, who did not see the field in 2019 because of injury. In 2018, VanDerStok hit a team-leading .348 with nine home runs, 50 RBIs and 71 hits.

A good amount of Reeder’s new recruits have a South Georgia flavor.

Brock Revels comes from Cook. ABAC snared Pace Mercer, R.J. Delaney and Luke Benton from Thomas County Central. From Lowndes are Andrew Clark and Easton Willis. A transfer, Klay Allen (formerly of Tallahassee Community College), pitched for Pierce County.

He described Clark as “one of the better pitchers in our area.”

From the northern half of the state are Tony Rudolph (Putnam County), Malik Germany (Greenbrier) and T.J. Wright (Westside of Augusta). Reeder said this trio will develop into strong collegiate players.

The Stallions also plan to suit up Austin Craven, a player whose background is slightly non-traditional. Craven pitched for Colquitt County in high school, but he is a bit older than the usual college pitcher. He graduated in 2016, being named honorable mention on the Region 1 All-Region team that year.

Craven did not go on to pitch in college, said Reeder. Instead, the ABAC leader received a tip about “this guy playing softball.” It was Craven. Reeder praised his command on the mound.

The recruits include “a lot of role players,” said Reeder. A goal was to add versatile athletes to the roster.

Beyond roster changes, ABAC has a fairly significant one to its schedule.

West Georgia Tech has dropped its athletics program, which includes baseball. WGT belonged to the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association and ABAC played the Knights five times last season. Reeder said that because of West Georgia Tech’s departure, the conference schedule will start two weeks later.

It has also left ABAC with several openings in the schedule. One idea of Reeder’s to fill games is to reach out to colleges in the northern part of the United States that might be snowbirding during early spring.

Before Reeder gets into the fall portion of the Stallions’ workouts, he will be dealing with a much younger crowd. From July 15-19, he will be running a baseball camp at ABAC, open to players ages 7-14.

“I’m looking forward to the camp,” he said. Reeder said he has wanted to organize a camp for some time, but waited until improvements were completed at ABAC’s baseball field. He hints that attendees might get to spend some time at the on-campus pool.

The camp will run from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. July 15-18, and from 9 a.m. until noon on July 19. The fee is $175. For more information, visit https://athletics.abac.edu/camps/campinfo.

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