Baseball gets ready for SEC

ATHENS — Georgia baseball coach David Perno has a warning for other members of the Southeastern Conference: Don't expect his hotshot freshmen to cool off when the conference season begins this weekend.

"They are doing a great job, and it's not just because the competition is down," Perno said. "I think people who haven't seen us might think that. They are very advanced as hitters They are mature as far as their mental aspect, and, physically, they are extremely talented."

Newcomers Josh Morris and Joey Side have paced the Bulldogs on offense. Morris, a first baseman, leads Georgia with a .491 average and also has nine home runs and 30 RBI. Side, the right fielder, is just behind with a .400 average, three home runs and 16 RBI.

"We had high expectations before they got here, and, obviously, they are living up to them," Perno said.

The competition for Morris, Side and the rest of the Bulldogs gets better starting today when Georgia hosts Alabama for the opener of a three-game series at Foley Field. It will be the Bulldogs' first SEC series of the year.

"Obviously, our big test is coming this weekend," Perno said. "These kids are excited."

Georgia has run up an impressive 13-3 record in its non-conference schedule. Alabama is 14-4, but neither team is in the upper echelon of the SEC. The conference has seven teams ranked in the Baseball America Top 25, including No. 3 South Carolina and No. 4 LSU.

"Without question, looking at these records and seeing these teams win, (the league) is as good as it's been the last five years," Perno said. "It's going to be a challenge for us. We've got one goal, and that's to get to Birmingham (for the eight-team conference tournament). It's going to be extremely tough."

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