The summer months have been kind to the GMC Prep varsity baseball program.
Mere weeks after the 2019 season concluded the Bulldogs were back on the diamond so head coach Rusty Courson, who just finished up his second year leading the team, could get his first look at what GMC Prep will put on the field once next spring rolls around. The summer season was in full swing throughout the month of June, and despite facing a truncated schedule due to stormy weather, Coach Courson got exactly what he wanted out of his guys.
It’s not the returning commodities the head coach was concerned with in players like rising seniors Justin Alford and Ryan Barsby, but the rising freshmen and sophomores who will either be new to the program or be elevated from the JV to the varsity squad. The Bulldogs need athletes who can step up and do multiple jobs based on whoever is called upon to pitch, and the 10-game summer schedule allowed Courson to evaluate his newer crop of talent both at the plate and in the field while also getting to know them better on a personal level.
“Offensively our young guys really stepped it up,” Courson said. “Our focus this summer was with those ninth and 10th graders — putting them in hit-and-run situations and getting them to hit the ball to right field with a man on second to move him over to third — so they could become a team hitter as opposed to an individual hitter. It’s a different ballgame once you get to the varsity level due to better pitching quality and things of that nature.”
No trophies are handed out for summer ball so wins and losses aren’t the emphasis, although GMC Prep did enjoy a great deal of success, losing just one of their 10 games played with two others resulting in ties according to Courson. The Bulldogs closed out the summer season Tuesday with a pair of wins over GICAA (Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association) school Fullington Academy after having defeated ACE Charter 9-2 Monday. The Bulldog bats exploded for more than 30 runs over those last three contests
“We definitely got better from beginning to the end,” said Courson. “There were some surprises pitching-wise. I’ve got a 1-2 with Alford and Barsby coming back from last year, so I needed to find guys to fill the 3-4-5 slots.”
The head coach named rising sophomore Caleb Haines and Cody Beckham, a rising junior, as throwers that game him strong innings throughout June. One other player singled out by Courson was Christian Black who will just be a freshman when the Bulldogs take the field in the spring of 2020.
“He’s going to be something special,” Courson said of the young right-hander. “He’ll pitch a lot for me at the varsity level as a freshman simply because he throws a lot of strikes and knows the game of baseball.”
GMC Prep baseball lost three seniors but will return seven starters from last year’s winning season, one that saw the Bulldogs get bounced from the first round of state playoffs for a second-consecutive year. They’ll look to improve upon that result and also be a factor in the region championship picture.