MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Huntingdon baseball team is gearing up for its third season in the USA South Athletic Conference.
During their first two seasons in the USA South, the Hawks have won 38 conference games and finished in the top three both seasons. Coming off a 24-15 season (22-8 in the USA South) in 2015, Huntingdon is ranked No. 2 in the preseason conference poll.
Huntingdon opens the season this weekend with the Firehouse Classic at Posey Field. The Hawks play Southwestern at 5 p.m. on Friday, Randolph-Macon at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and Millsaps at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Huntingdon enters the season with 15 seniors and seven players who started at least 20 games last season. On the mound, the Hawks return five pitchers who made at least 10 appearances.
Among the pitchers are three (senior Jackson Cruce, sophomore Jared Gonzalez and senior Zack Watson) who combined for 15 wins and 102 strikeouts last season. Cruce was 5-3 last season with 36 strikeouts and a 4.50 ERA in 64 innings.
Gonzalez, the USA South Rookie Pitcher of the Year and an honorable mention All-Conference selection, was 7-2 with 42 strikeouts and a 4.98 ERA in 59.2 innings as a freshman. Watson was 3-3 with 24 strikeouts and a 3.99 ERA in 58.2 innings.
The Hawks return three outfielders and two infielders who started in 30 or more games last season. Senior Landon Sessions started in 30 games at shortstop and senior Mason Throneberry started 35 games at second base.
In the outfield, the Hawks return a second-team All-Region and first-team All-Conference selection in senior Anthony Spivey and two second-team All-Conference selections in seniors Patrick Kucera and Alec Raley.
Spivey started in 36 games and led Huntingdon with a .380 batting average, a .613 slugging percentage, 46 RBIs and tied for the team lead with 54 hits. He was second on the team with seven home runs.
Kucera started in every game last season and batted .313 with 48 runs, 19 RBIs, eight doubles, 19 stolen bases and a .487 on-base percentage. He led Division III with 35 walks and was tied for seventh in Division III with 48 runs scored. He was second in the USA South in runs and stolen bases.
Raley also started in all 39 games and batted .325 with 37 RBIs, 33 runs, seven doubles and a .390 on-base percentage. He tied for the team-lead in hits, was second in batting average and third in RBIs.
The complete tournament schedule is below.
Huntingdon Firehouse Classic
1 p.m. – Randolph-Macon vs. Millsaps
5 p.m. – Southwestern vs. Huntingdon
10 a.m. – Southwestern vs. Randolph-Macon
1:30 p.m. -- Randolph-Macon vs. Huntingdon
5 p.m. – Millsaps vs. Southwestern
1 p.m. – Millsaps vs. Huntingdon