CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern opened practice for Head Coach Stuart Lake's eighth season the with a two-hour scrimmage on Friday afternoon at CSU Ballpark.
After six months of skill work, fall ball, and weights, the scrimmage marked the first official day of practice for the Buccaneers in preparation for the 2016 season. It also marked the first time the Bucs could compete in a "live game" situation since October and Lake was pleased with the tone his team set.
"I was concerned with the rain and some of the conditions (rain) we've dealt with for months might affect us, but I thought we performed well and competed with a lot of energy," Lake said. "The (Blue team) with the older lineup came out and jumped on them early. It was a good first day."
The Buccaneers scrimmaged for four innings before beginning to shake up the flow of the game with some situational work. Sophomore Daniel Johnson pitched four scoreless innings and faced a handful of extra batters in the fourth to wrap up his day.
Senior shortstop Cole Murphy hit a three-run home run off of Evan Raynor in the first to give the Blue lineup – predominantly made up of returning starters from last season – a quick 3-0 lead. Veteran infielders Kevin Hickey and Nate Blanchard both had singles in their first at-bats.
Lake expected one lineup to have the advantage, but couldn't downplay the impact of Johnson and Murphy in the first scrimmage of the year.
"D.J. (Johnson) has just taken the confidence he gained playing summer ball last year and made himself a different player," Lake said of his sophomore lefty. "(Murphy) a guy who is a senior and a guy we're counting on to drive in some runs and produce on offense. It was good to see him make a big swing and get off to a good start offensively."
Starting Pitchers for Remaining Weekend Scrimmages
WEEKEND FESTIVITIES: Lake and the Bucs will host a youth camp for around 40 kids, ages 7-12, in the morning. The team will scrimmage at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon and Sunday to wrap up the opening week of practice.
NFL veteran and former Philadelphia Eagle Sheldon Brown addressed the team following Friday's scrimmage and brought a youth baseball team to Charleston to be a part of Saturday's youth camp. Brown played one season for Coach Lake when Lake was a part of Ray Tanner's staff at South Carolina.