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Diamond Dawgs set to take on expectations

Pitching, defense should lead Dawgs

The result of winning can be a funny thing.

Everyone wants to win, and when it happens, it’s enjoyable.

The other half of that is the pressure cooker being turned up to match those same results, if not exceed them. Winning is a monster, and the task is to find a way to feed it.

That, to a tee, is where Georgia’s baseball program is entering the 2020 season.

A breakthrough for the Scott Stricklin regime finally happened two years ago with Georgia earning a national seed, and the regular-season results last year earned the same. There was, however, a big road block - not being able to win the Athens regional either time.

Georgia has the pieces in place to once again be in position to make some noise in the postseason and push to Omaha. Being in that spot is key, and the Diamond Dawgs expect to be able to do just that.

The road begins this weekend as Georgia hosts Richmond.

The bottom line is that as this team goes, it’ll go by its pitching.

Cole Wilcox and Emerson Hancock will be worth the cost of admission at the quaint surroundings of Foley Field. Both have gained preseason all-american honors and are tabbed as first-round draft picks. Toss in CJ Smith as the third starter, and Georgia has one of the nation’s better weekend rotations. Key will be bolstering the depth of the pitching staff to safeguard against injuries and also arms to go to late in the regular season and into the postseason.

As good as Georgia’s pitching and defense were last year - a .980 fielding percentage set a school record - it should be even better this year. Around the infield, Riley King and Cam Shepherd will return at starting positions in the middle of the infield with Patrick Sullivan being among those to watch as he returns at first base. Toss in the catching platoon of Mason Meadows and Shane Marshall, and there is no reason to believe that this team won’t be sound defensively.

Shepherd and King were in a four-way tie for the second on the team last year in home runs with eight, and King’s 43 RBIs were good for third on the team, so Georgia does have a team capable of clutch hits.

Schedule-wise, Georgia has SEC contests at conference foes that include Florida, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Mizzou and Arkansas. Home matchups include South Carolina, Auburn, Tennessee and Ole Miss.

Another attractive facet of this years schedule comes with the new alignment of the Georgia Tech series. Instead of separate one-game tilts in the middle of the week in year’s past as top pitchers typically would be rested, the two teams will instead play a three-game series to end February - playing Friday in Athens, Saturday at Georgia Tech and March 1 at Coolray Field.

Go Dawgs!