The 2012-2013 athletic year will be the fourth for the East Georgia State College Bobcats, and it’s a year in which all four teams are expected to make postseason runs after they all made the conference playoffs in 2011-2012.
The Bobcat men’s basketball team went 19-11 last year, making it a big improvement over the year before. The team lost some key players, but brings back young talent and some new comers that will be expected to provide a ton of minutes. Jordan Johnson, who as a freshman last year averaged 12.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.7 steals per game, returns to run the point for Neil Bailey’s squad. Coach Bailey will also get back Corinthians Brown, who was hurt in the third game for the Bobcats last year. He averaged 23 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and three steals in those two games. Several other key returnees are Larry Bullock and Brian Byrd. This is a team expected to be one of the top contenders in the conference.
The women’s basketball team has a new coach in Brad Childers, the son of Bud, who coached the team to the conference playoffs last year with a huge late-season push. He will get a team that is without star player Valese McCallister, but is still talented enough to make a run at the postseason. They only return two players from last year’s team, Sameria Butts and Taylor Johnson. Butts was the point guard for most of the season, scoring 5.4 points, grabbed 2.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Johnson averaged 1.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists, and 0.1 steals per game. This is a team that is basically all new comers, so the inexperience factor is one thing that the team will have to get over very quickly. If they can do that, they should be contenders in the conference.
The Bobcat baseball team also had to make a very late season push to make it to the conference playoffs, but that’s exactly what they did behind great pitching and timely hitting. The team lost some of its best bats, but does return some of the top pitchers, including Austin Denney. Denney posted a record of 4-4 with an ERA of 2.91 and 43 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched. Denney was also a key offensive cog for the team, hitting .252 with an OPS of .685, 10 RBI, and 14 runs scored. The speedy John Wesley is also back to roam center field. He played exceptional defense to go along with a .212 average, .514 OPS, 15 RBI, and 21 runs scored. Chris Hobbs, a guy that played all over the infield last year, returns with an average of .286, an OPS of .691, 19 RBI, and 27 runs scored. Other key returnees are Seth Gower, Brett Madden, Ashley Claxton, and Casey Davis. If the team can find another pitcher or two and a few bats with pop, this is a team that can make a postseason run.
The softball team may have been the most impressive for the Bobcat program last year, shattering every single school record en route to a conference playoff trip. It’s also the team that returns the most key players, such as its top pitcher and many of the top hitters. Brittany Middleton, the team’s Pitcher of the Year last year, returns after posting a record of 10-10 with an ERA of 2.72 and 91 strikeouts in 131.1 innings. Brinsley Screws (.389 average, five homers, 33 RBI, and 33 runs scored), Nikki Sims (.301 average, six homers, 26 RBI, and 25 runs scored), and Mychavia Harris(.336 average, 13 RBI, and 22 runs scored) are among the important offensive players that have returned. Others include Laura Cardell, Ansley Rushing, and Mackenzie Walker. This is a team that should without question make a run to the postseason.
If everything falls, the Bobcats should once again get all four teams into postseason play, as the athletic program continues to show progress and continues to grow into one of the better one in the conference.