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Former Columbia County players boost Georgia Southern baseball

Posted: March 4, 2012 - 12:08am

This season, the Georgia Southern baseball team has a familiar look for Columbia County fans. Two of the Eagles’ everyday players and one of the relief pitchers enjoyed solid prep careers in Columbia County.

GSU has long made it a point to recruit in Columbia County. Former Evans standouts Craig Cassedy, Mark Hamlin, Buddy Holder, Ben Hayslip, Clint Sauls, Grady Blanchard, Michael Holder and Todd Greene played in Statesboro.

Greene is easily GSU’s all-time best player, and is in the school’s Hall of Fame. Lakeside’s Brian Hall and Chris Banker, and Greenbrier’s Michael Hester, also suited up for the Eagles.

This season, the Eagles are off to a 5-3 start, and they are being led by a pair of former Greenbrier stars.

Sophomore Ben Morgan has started all eight games for the Eagles at shortstop, while junior slugger T.D. Davis is the starting first baseman.

Morgan turned heads last season with a solid campaign starting as a true freshman in the infield. Davis is a junior college transfer who played the past two seasons at Georgia Perimeter in Atlanta. He enjoyed a monster freshman season there, hitting .350 with a team-best nine homers. He also drove in 43 runs and boasted a .560 slugging percentage.

Last season, Davis’ numbers were down. He hit just .204 with two homers and 17 RBI while battling through injuries. GSU did not let a sophomore slump stop them from signing the former ’Pack standout, and the move has paid off so far.

Davis is among the team leaders with a .323 batting average. He also has scored six runs, has two doubles, a home run and six RBI. In a recent 11-9 loss to Georgia Tech, Davis had an RBI double and is showing that he can hit Division I pitching.

In that loss to Georgia Tech, Morgan drove in a pair of runs for the Eagles. The sophomore is off to a solid start in 2012. He currently is hitting .276 with six RBI and a pair of stolen bases. He also leads the team with 25 defensive assists.

Morgan’s stellar play should not be a surprise. Last season, he came in as a true freshman and surprised many by starting 59 games in the Eagles’ infield. He hit nearly .300 for a large portion of the season before an end-of-the-year slump caused his average to dip to .235. He also finished among the national leaders in assists.

Joining Morgan and Davis for the Eagles this season is Lakeside product Heath Durand.

He pitched a scoreless inning of relief last weekend in a 5-4 loss to Radford. During his prep career, he helped lead Lakeside to a pair of region titles and a state runner-up finish in 2010.

Durand’s role for the Eagles has yet to be decided, but by all accounts they are very high on the former Panther. They think added strength could help him become a very productive pitcher in the Southern Conference.

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