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Game time for LaGrange College baseball team

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

For the first time since the 2020 season ended prematurely in March, the LaGrange College baseball team will get an opportunity to play a game.

LaGrange College will host Birmingham Southern in the season opener on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

LaGrange College went 12-5 during the abbreviated 2020 season, and two of the losses came during a three-game series against Birmingham Southern.

The Panthers came into the 2020 season having won the previous three USA South tournament titles, and they were the favorite to make it four in a row, but they were denied that opportunity because of COVID-19.

LaGrange was 5-1 in conference games when the 2020 season ended.

The Panthers appear well-positioned to pick up where they left off with nearly every key player returning from last year’s team.

In fact, eight of the starters who were on the field for the final game of 2020 will be back this season, and that includes outfielder McKinley Erves, who hit .441 last season.

Many of the Panthers’ top pitchers are back as well, including J.R. Robinson, who was 4-1 with a 1.36 earned run average last year.

Leading the way is David Kelton, who has a 171-101 record during his seven seasons as LaGrange College’s head coach

Kelton, a Troup High graduate who played professional baseball for a decade, was an assistant to Kevin Howard at LaGrange College before taking the head-coaching job.

Since the start of the 2016 season, the Panthers are 144-54, and they played in the NCAA tournament each year from 2016 to 2019.

In 2019, LaGrange College lost a hard-fought best-of-three series to Birmingham Southern in the first round of the NCAA tournament. After they split the first four games, Birmingham Southern won the winner-take-all game five 14-6.