Although warmer weather may not be in the Jackson forecast for a while, the sun is definitely shining on the Union baseball program.
After a dry spell that lasted four years, the Bulldogs made a turnaround last season finishing with a winning record of 33-20 overall and 14-13 in their conference. This was their first time to accomplish this since being a part of the NCAA. In addition, the team made their first ever appearance in the Gulf South Conference Tournament.
With a new season, the team has expectations and desires to continue moving forward. Head coach Lee Driggers, who is in his fourth year at Union, has high hopes.
“We would like to build on our successes from last season to be in the conference tournament every year,” Driggers said. “Our team this year is much younger but talented enough to reach the tournament if we play to our potential.”
The team lost many seniors and six starters since last year. However, the team will still be returning some key players. According to Driggers, number one pitching starter, senior JR Miller, saw a lot of action this last year and will continue to this year. Seniors Marty Coursey and Skylar Harrison will also be contributing to the success of the pitching lineup this season.
Also returning is junior Nolen Milton, who is the team’s leading hitter. Milton has numerous preseason honors including NCBWA Preseason All-American and being named to the Gulf South Conference All-Conference team.
“We know who we are and know what we have to do to be successful,” Milton said. “We have a deep lineup and a lot of experienced pitchers. We are capable of doing some big things this year. We just have to stay within ourselves and not worry about anything else.”
We also look forward to seeing familiar faces including junior catcher Jesse Kelley, senior second baseman Chase Diggs, and junior shortstop Caleb DeMarigny.
“We have several players who have been in our program for three years working to earn their spot in the lineup,” Driggers said. “Their time is now and we look forward to watching their progress.”
Along with the new year comes many new faces for the Bulldogs who are excited to make their own mark. Junior infielder Zane Phillips is coming to Union after playing at Jackson State and junior first baseman Spencer Shultz is joining the Bulldogs from Lakeland Community College.
Although the team has made many adjustments since last year, there is no reason to believe that they will fall short. To prove this, the team started out with an opening day double-header sweep against Ouachita Baptist University.
Photo courtesy of UU Athletics