EMORY, Va. - The Emory & Henry College Baseball Team starts off the 2016 season on the road this weekend at Berry College. The Wasps will look to infuse a new crop of freshmen to their experienced group, which includes six seniors. E&H was picked to finish 11th in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference but that projection should not stop the Wasps from earning some key conference victories.
Last season, the Wasps tied for an ODAC-leading 22 home runs. Senior Brandon Lineberry was the major source for the Wasps' power as he led the league in home runs (nine), RBI (37), slugging percentage (.712), and total bases (84). For his efforts, Lineberry was named to the ABCA/Rawlings All-South Region Second Team. The Wasps will rely heavily on his bat to make waves in the ODAC. Fellow senior Ben Barnett will also be a contributor from his outfield position after he hit .258 with two doubles and four RBI last season.
Junior Hunter Jeffries was fourth on the team last season with a .318 batting average and also added a double, triple, and three RBI on the year. Sophomores Carson Bryant and Josh Macek both provided strong offensive outputs for the ball club. Bryant tallied 15 RBI along with three home runs, while Macek had seven RBI and three extra-base hits during the 2015 campaign.
Coach McCall has reiterated that the pitching depth will be of great importance for Emory & Henry this season. With 10 freshmen pitchers coming aboard this year, McCall and the Wasps will certainly look to the young arms to make an impact.
The pitching staff starts with ace left-hander, Aaron Sparks. Sparks has led the Wasps in strikeouts in each of the past two seasons, tallying 58 in his Emory & Henry career thus far. The southpaw has started 17 games over two years and has registered five complete games. Junior Garrett Butler pitched in nine games, starting seven a year ago and was second on the squad in innings pitched and strikeouts, with 41 and 19, respectively. Junior Ryan Mullins returns this year after missing the 2015 season due to injury.
Overall, Emory & Henry comes in this season with a much-increased level of athleticism which will aid in all aspects of the game. That athleticism surely bodes well for the Wasps defensively, as it will provide support in the field to the E&H pitchers.
-photo courtesy of Caleb Johnston, E&H '15