MONROEVILLE – It was almost a perfect season – almost.
In 2014, Alabama Southern's Eagles had one of their finest performances. They won 36 games and advanced to the finals of the district tournament. Then, it all came to an end. One game away from the NJCAA College World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado and the 2014 season came crashing to a halt.
Now, the long road back begins for Eagle skipper Daniel Head, who is entering his seventh campaign at the helm of the squad.
"We've got some good things going for us," Head remarked. "We return three starters from last year's team and we've got five of our top six pitchers off a team that won the ACCC South Division Championship and finished as the runner-up for the NJCAA Region 22/Southeastern District Championship."
Coach Head said there will be some new faces in the lineup but he hopes the experienced pitching staff can carry the team until the supporting cast develops the chemistry to carry the team back to championship caliber.
"I feel like we have some momentum left over from last year," Coach Head remarked. "If our pitching staff can help us get off to a good start, I think we will be all right."
Some key players coming back for the Eagles include catcher Trevor Flynn of Maylene, who tallied four home runs and 35 RBI last season. He will be joined by shortstop Hunter Ellenburg of Fairhope, who drove in 25 runs last season and stole 14 bases.
Former Thomasville Tiger Tevin Watters returns to the lineup. Last season, Watters pulled double-duty for the Eagles, playing in the outfield and pitching. At the plate, Watters recorded 10 doubles in the season, drove in eight runs and stole 12 bases. As a pitcher, he racked up a 3-0 record with eight saves. In 24 innings on the mound, he struck out 17 batters.
Other pitchers coming back include right-hander Hayden Roberts of Irvington, who played high school ball at Alma Bryant. As a starter, Roberts racked up a 4-2 record and also clinched four saves. In 64 innings of work, he fanned 52 batters. Roberts has already signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Southern Mississippi after this season ends.
Left-hander Aaron Hart of Sebring, Florida returns to the lineup. Hart was 7-3 last season with 31 strikeouts.
Thomasville High product Ryan Cribb, also a southpaw, returns for the Eagles. In 2014, Cribb was 3-1 with one save with 16 strikeouts.
Right-hander Dylan Kiene of Mobile rounds out the returning pitchers. He was 6-2 last season with 27 strikeouts.
The Eagles will begin the season over in the Magnolia State as they travel to Meridian to take on the Meridian Community College Wildcats Feb. 7 in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Their first home game in Monroeville will be against Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on Feb. 10. That doubleheader also begins at 1 p.m. On Feb. 25, the Eagles will play a home game in Thomasville against Meridian Community College. That game begins at 2 p.m.