The sun was out at the Pete, but it was windy and cold as the 2017 version of the Southern Miss baseball team took the field for their first inter-squad scrimmage.
Hayden Roberts was the starting pitcher for the gray squad. Roberts fastball was consistently 91, with decent location, and his slider was tailing down through the zone. He recorded two strikeouts over two walks in very limited action, as the coaching staff was keeping a pitch count of around 40 on the pitchers today.
Kirk MCCarty was the starter for the black team. Kirk's fastball was consistently 89-90, and his curve ball was brutal on lefties. He recorded two strikeouts in limited action. His only mistake was leaving a curve ball out over the plate that that third baseman Luke Reynolds deposited over the right field wall.
Starting catcher Cole Donaldson 6-1 175 So. Was very good behind the plate. The athletic catcher kept everything in front of him, as well as gunning down the speedy Tracey Hadley, and Gabe Montenegro on attempted steals to second base. Donaldson also contributed offensively with a big RBI double he ripped into the leftfield gap. Donaldson's skill set and build remind me a great deal of former Southern Miss catching great Chris Logan.
Mason Irby 6-0 195 JR. started in right for the Gray and hit leadoff. Irby was 1-3 on the day with a sharp single back up the middle.
Hunter Slater 6-0 193 RSSO. started in left for the Gray squad today. Slater was very productive at the plate today going 2-4 with a hard double to center and an opposite field single to left.
Lefty Stevie Powers came into the contest for the Black squad in a middle relief role. Powers was very effective spotting his fastball, while his braking ball was tough on the lefties. Powers recorded two strikeouts in just two innings of work. Powers is a guy that will compete for that Sunday starter spot, but then you get thin with effective lefty middle relief. It will be important for one of the young lefties to emerge over the next three weeks and show that he can hold it down in a middle and long relief role.
Tracey Hadley 6-0 195 SR. Has added 10 pounds of quality muscle during workouts. He is a guy that will be the Golden Eagles main utility player. He will see time at third when Braley pitches. He is also working at short with Lemarcus Boyd. With his speed, may also see time in the outfield as well. Hadley was 1-3 today with a hard hit double off the leftfield wall.
Matt Wallner 6-5 220 FR. Started in center for the gray squad today. Wallner had a nice day at the plate going 2-4 with an RBI single up the middle in the 2nd inning. He then added an RBI double in the 7th, with a smash into the rightfield gap.
Trent Driver 6-1 185 JR right handed relief pitcher continues to impress. He was impressive in the Fall, and looked in mid-season form today working pitches from several different arm slots. He is very unique in that he will work a batter as a side winder or come back with something thrown over the top. As a sidewinder he has that natural break and movement that sidewinders have. He runs his fastball up around 91 and comes in with a nasty breaking ball on right handed batters. He also showed a nice off speed pitch he spotted up nicely against left handed batters. He will prove to be a valuable addition to the pen this season.
My only complaint on the day came in the form of that old bugaboo, poor base running. Three different base runners were picked off today. It is really just a mental thing and paying attention, and being disciplined.