CHARLESTON, S.C. – Three scrimmages and a free youth clinic will highlight the opening weekend of practice as Charleston Southern continues preparations for the 2016. The Bucs will scrimmage at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon at CSU Ballpark to officially begin practice.
CSU head coach Stuart Lake, who begins his eighth season, is looking for his team to have a little bit of an edge as they see their first live action since late October.
"We've been preparing for so long, you just expect them to come out with energy and excitement," Lake said. "After all fall and now three weeks of skill work, these guys will be ready to compete and set a good tone because the season gets here so quickly. We want to start getting into our weekend routine where our game times and schedule match our home schedule to open the season."
The Bucs have a lot of shoes to fill on the mound entering February and will begin with a stern test in the form of a season-opening home series with West Virginia (Feb. 19-21). Lake will have to replace three of his top four starters from the 2015 season. Gone are LHP Andrew Tomasovich in the MLB Draft and the school's all-time saves leader in Austin Weekley.
Senior RHP Evan Raynor would figure to hold down his weekend starting spot that featured four Big South wins and two complete games last season. LHP Daniel Johnson, reliever RHP Jon Piriz, and LHP Alex Ministeri all had impressive falls and will push for weekend spots. Sophomore RHP Tyler Weekley could be the wild card in the Bucs' rotation, returning from Tommy John surgery after an impressive freshman season (25.1 scoreless innings to start career). Lake knows it's important to choose a rotation and get in the "weekend routine" as soon as possible.
"We're going try and make some decisions this weekend about our rotation to start the season and let our starters get on a schedule as we move toward Opening Day," Lake added. "We'll do some situational stuff with our relievers for the same reason."
Starting Pitchers for Weekend Scrimmages
Fri., 4 p.m. – RHP Evan Raynor vs. LHP Daniel Johnson
Sat., 1:30 p.m. – RHP Jon Piriz vs. LHP Alex Ministeri
Sun., 1:30 p.m. – RHP Kyle Dyson vs. RHP Tyler Weekley
Youth Camp/Sheldon Brown – Former South Carolina Gamecock and 11-year NFL veteran Sheldon Brown will be part of a free youth camp on Saturday morning at CSU Ballpark. Brown played baseball as a senior at USC where Coach Lake was a member of the staff.
Brown received the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association "Good Guy" Award in 2008 when he was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles and now works with underprivileged kids in the Fort Mill/Rock Hill area. Brown will speak to the Bucs following Friday's scrimmage.
The camp is free and is open to ages 7-12. It will run from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and will be followed immediately by CSU's second weekend scrimmage. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to register.