• 73°

New season begins for Panthers

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

LaGrange College’s baseball team, coming off another exceptional season under head coach David Kelton, will open its season with a three-game home series this week against Roanoke (Va.).

The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m., and they’ll play a single game on Sunday at noon.

LaGrange College went 32-12 last season, and it won a third consecutive USA South tournament championship before falling to Birmingham Southern in the NCAA Division III regional.

The Panthers return most of the key players from last year’s team, and they’re unsurprisingly they’re the preseason pick to win the conference championship for a fourth straight year.

Kelton, a Troup High graduate who played professional baseball for a decade before going into coaching, was an assistant under previous head coach Kevin Howard before taking over the program in 2014.

After back-to-back losing seasons in 2014 and 2015, the Panthers went 30-13 in 2016, and they’re 132-49 over the past four years.

Returning for the Panthers are some of the key members of the lineup, including McKinley Erves, Joe Ruth and E.J. Churchich, along with standout pitchers Spencer Douches and Richie Pose.

After a game at Oglethorpe on Tuesday, LaGrange College will host a three-game series against Birmingham Southern next weekend, and that’ll be a rematch of their NCAA Regional series from last year.

The best-of-five series went the distance, with Birmingham Southern winning the final two games to prevail.

Birmingham Southern went on to finish second in Division III.