Collegiate baseball comes to Covington
Jaguars host Guilford Tech Saturday at Newton campus
As winter begins to fade and the spring months come to Covington this year, the change in scenery is not alone.
Enter: the new Georgia Perimeter College Jaguars baseball team.
“Being from the area, New- ton County has some of the best ball players in the state,” said head coach Danny Blue, “so I am looking forward to playing in front of a community (who) knows and supports baseball.”
The season gets underway with a double header against Guilford Tech at 1 p.m. on Saturday. It will be the inaugural home opener for the Jaguars here in Newton County.
Blue comes to Georgia Perimeter after 26 years of coaching experience at Heritage High, where he collected seven region championships, was honored Coach of the Year and named seven-time Region Coach of the Year.
In 2006, Blue received high school baseball’s most prestigious honor by being elected to the Georgia High School Dugout Club Hall of Fame.
“A perfect fit, and exactly who we needed to hire to bring the baseball program back to its glory days,” said GPC Athletic Director Greg Ward.
Putting his utmost faith in Blue, Ward feels he will be able to use his knowledge and expertise of the game to get the Jaguars back on track after a disappointing 2007 season.
“We are still rebuilding,” said Blue. “The program has been down for the past three years, but we have brought in some good ball players.”
The Jaguars, who play under the GJCAA rules, will face some steep competition this season. Meeting opponents like nationally ranked Young Harris should certainly come as no easy task.
“We will play a lot of good teams this season,” stated Blue. “Of course we want to win, but if nothing else we want to be able to stand toe-to-toe with them until the end.”
Having to rebuild this season and replace a lot of holes may in fact be the Jaguars’ Achilles heel. With only one returning starting pitcher in Justin Yackee, they hope to find support from their young replacements.
“At times this season we will be starting eight freshmen,” said Blue. “With only one returning starter from last year it’s going to be tough. We may be a year or so out of contention, but we are going to play tough ball and hopefully come out with a .500 season.”
What they may lack in pitching, they feel they can make up for it with other strengths.
“We hope our bats can come through and put some runs on the board, and (if) we get a decent showing from our pitching staff that will hold them off,” said Blue.
First baseman Chad Turner agrees, taking it a further step.
“We have good hitters, but we also have good chemis- try as a team,” said Turner. “I believe if everyone stays healthy we can be in the top five in the region.”
As the season nears, the team hopes to be role models for the community, and give the youth leagues something to aspire to be a part of.
“We have a brand new, nice facility and a great atmo- sphere for the kids to come out with their families to watch,” said Blue.
While the Jaguars try to gather as much fan support, Blue feels this should also be a great opportunity to recruit.
“I have lived in this area for a while and know the talent,” said Blue. “We want anyone who can play at this level here.”