Baseball Preview: Hartsell and Bucs pitching staff ready to bring the heat

Baseball Preview: Hartsell and Bucs pitching staff ready to bring the heat

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern baseball begins this weekend as the Buccaneers host Delaware State at the CSU Ballpark on February 17-19. The Bucs open the season with 11 of their first 12 games at home before traveling to Florida International on March 9-11.

The Bucs enter their first season under the helm of interim head coach Adam Ward and will host 29 games at the CSU Ballpark in 2017.

Yesterday, the CSU Sports Information Department broke down the catching corps (read here). The season preview will continue with the infield on Wednesday and the outfield on Thursday.

Charleston Southern Pitching Staff
ReturnersCody Smith, Adam Andrew, Jamison Mobbs, Daniel Johnson, Kyle Dyson, Cody Maw, Eddie Hiott, Tyler Pickard, Wil Hartsell, Evan Nations, Tyler Weekley

NewcomersCorey Ireson, Ryan Stoudemire, Jaret Bennett, Nik Constantakos, Taylor Cox, Bishop Jones, Parker Futrell, Seth Owens

Smith was among the Big South's leading relievers with 16 appearances and a 1.77 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched. He added 20.1 innings pitched and had two saves while holding opponents to a .219 batting average.

Andrew made 11 appearances and posted a 1-0 record in 16.1 innings pitched in 2016. He added 12 strikeouts and a 4.41 ERA on the year.

Mobbs made his impact out of the CSU bullpen in the 2016 season with seven appearances after coming from Goose Creek, S.C. and Stratford High School.

Johnson established himself as a weekend starter in his sophomore campaign and finished second on the roster with 65.0 innings pitched and third with 41 strikeouts.

Dyson made four starts and had 11 appearances in his junior season, striking out 19 in 25.2 innings in 2016.

Maw emerged as a key piece of a strong CSU bullpen toward the end of his redshirt freshman season in 2016 and was second on the team with 20 appearances and 36 innings pitched in relief.

Pickard made eight appearances and posted six strikeouts in the 2016 season after redshirting in 2015

Hartsell emerged as a key reliever out of the CSU bullpen after missing the first half of the season due to injury. He finished the season with a team-high three saves while holding opponents to a .180 batting average.

Nations emerged as a weekend starter for the Bucs in the 2016 season and finished fourth on the team with 54.2 innings pitched while making 16 appearances and nine starts.

Weekley looks to bounce back after missing the past two seasons due to injury. In his last appearances on the mound in 2014, Weekley went 3-3 with a 3.66 ERA over 10 appearances with four starts on the rubber.

Notes about the CSU Pitching Staff

  • Smith closed out the 2016 season with six consecutive scoreless appearances and averaged 11.07 strikeouts per nine innings on the year
  • Andrew was another strikeout pitcher on the mound for the Bucs in 2016 with 6.61 strikeouts per nine innings and he will potentially also see time behind the plate this year
  • Mobbs made three scoreless appearances in the 2016 season including a shutout inning in relief in the season-opening series against West Virginia
  • Johnson had several standout pitching performances in the 2016 season including an eight-inning masterpiece win over UMass, as well as stopping a CSU drought against Liberty with a seven-inning start in the Bucs' 6-1 win in Lynchburg
  • Dyson made his longest career outing in the 2016 season with the redshirt senior and Hanahan native working six innings and scattering nine hits and two runs in a win over N.C. Central
  • Maw averaged 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 2016 and worked a pair of scoreless innings in CSU's 6-4 win over eventual national champion Coastal Carolina on May 13 at the CSU Ballpark
  • Pickard worked four scoreless appearances in the 2016 season including a pair of perfect innings against The Citadel (April 5) and Gardner-Webb (April 23)
  • Hartsell finished the 2016 season with five consecutive scoreless appearances, including working three innings in CSU's 9-4 win over Presbyterian in the Bucs' season finale
  • Nations was one of the hottest pitchers in the Big South to start the 2016 season as the redshirt sophomore allowed one earned run or fewer in his first eight appearances of the season
  • Weekley starred in his CSU debut in the 2014 season with the James Island native holding opponents scoreless over his first three appearances and allowing only one run over his first 24.1 collegiate innings
  • Ireson led Osceola High School to back-to-back district championships in 2013 and 201 and posted an ERA of 0.65 while striking out nearly eight batters per inning in the 2015 season. He was rated as a top 500 prospect in the country by Perfect Game
  • Stoudemire was a three-year letter-winner and starter at Mid-Carolina High School and was a three-time All-Region selection after leading Mid-Carolina to a pair of region championships
  • Bennett led Colonel Richardson High School to a 2015 Bayside Conference Championship and was honored as the Bayside Conference Player of the Year
  • Constantakos was a two-time All-County selection at Jupiter Christian High School in Jupiter, Fla., and posted a career ERA of 1.47 while striking out 208 batters in three years at the varsity level
  • Cox made seven relief appearances at Lenoir-Rhyne University in 2014 with six scoreless outings with the Bears
  • Jones was a two-year letter winners at Charlotte Christian and led CCHS to back-to-back NCISAA 3A State Championships in 2014 and 2015
  • Futrell comes to the Bucs from Hanahan High School and was named Hanahan's Most Valuable Pitcher in 2015 after posting a 2-1 record with a pair of saves and a 1.28 ERA
  • Owens was a two-way player at North Augusta High School with the side-arming right-hander posting a 2.08 ERA in 21 relief innings as a junior

Ward on the CSU Pitching Staff

"We are excited about our pitching staff this year because we have a lot of talented arms. We have the luxury of being able to show a lot of different looks to an opposing offense over the course of a weekend series. We have a good mix of newcomers and veterans and those returners have done a great job of providing leadership up to this point." - CSU interim head coach Adam Ward on the pitching staff.

Q&A with redshirt junior right-hander Wil Hartsell
All this time and preparation for the 2017 season and you're less than a week away from first pitch. What goes through your mind as you continue to prepare for the 2017 season?
"I'm just trying to keep it like a normal week and stay in a routine, but I'm excited and ready to get going. It's been a long fall and long spring, and I'm just ready to get going and see what we can do this year."

It's almost a brand-new staff this season with eight new pitchers on the team. As one of the leaders on the staff, how have you seen the returners work with the newcomers to prepare for the year?
"I try to get out there and get my work in. A lot of us older guys and returners are out there doing our routines and the younger guys come up and are asking what we're doing and how that helps us get ready. I just try to explain and help them get ready for their outings with what I've learned. Just try to give some pointers here and there to help with mobility and strength, everything like that. We've got a lot of talent on the team this year."

You bounced back from an injury last season to become a key reliever on the staff and finished among the team leaders in saves. This year you make the transition to starter. How have you adapted and how does this change your preparations for each game?
"It was weird making the transition. This summer I went up to Charlottesville and started, and that's something I'd never done before. My first two starts were tough and just about adapting and changing to start going a complete game. It's about getting into a routine and changing my mindset a little bit. I go out there full effort on every pitch still, but I'm starting to see the counts and do what I can to keep the pitch count down. You have to have trust in your fielders and the guy behind the plate to get a ground ball and know they will make the play behind you."

A lot of home games early in the season is good for a team to relax and get on a roll. What are you most looking forward to in the early schedule?
"I think the home games help me and the other guys get going in the season. Everyone says home field advantage is big, and you get to eat in your house/dorm and sleep in your own bed. It's good to really get 12 games in before we really hit the road. It's just good to get that early routine in."

Any series, dates you are most looking forward to this season?
"I'm looking forward to Longwood. The pitching coach there was my coach this summer and it's also our conference opener, so it will be a good one."

What do you have to say to encourage fans to come out to the Ballpark and watch the Bucs this season?
"We've got a good team this year with a lot of young guys and a lot of energy. We're hitting with a lot more power and have more guys throwing hard. It will be fun to watch and everybody is ready to get after it this season."

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