To say former Greenbrier High School standouts Ben Morgan and T.D. Davis were leaders for the Georgia Southern University baseball team this year would be an understatement. The talented duo led the Eagles in virtually every offensive category.
First off, the two started all 59 games for GSU, a rare accomplishment in the grueling college baseball season. Morgan, a 5-9, 175-pound junior, was the sparkplug for the Eagles this season. Playing third base and shortstop, he was a leader on defense. That was expected of Morgan. He was known for his stellar defense and high baseball acumen when he arrived in Statesboro after a solid prep career at Greenbrier.
However, his development at the plate has been the real story of his three years at GSU. This season he led or tied for the lead in seven offensive categories, and he finished second in four others. He paced the team in batting, hitting at a .307 clip. He also was tops for the Eagles in runs (48), hits (74), on-base percentage (.388), stolen bases (27), doubles (16) and triples (2). Hitting for average, scoring runs and stealing bases were expected of Morgan, but hitting for power and driving in runs was a huge bonus for the Eagles.
Despite hitting first or second in the order all year, Morgan managed to drive in 36 runs. He also was second on the team in other power areas, including home runs (6), slugging percentage (.465), walks (28) and total bases (112).
If Morgan was not tops in an offensive category for the Eagles, it was a safe bet that another Greenbrier product was. First baseman Davis had a tremendous senior campaign for GSU. The 6-4, 235 pound slugger led the Eagles and was among the nation’s best this season with 13 home runs. Like Morgan, Davis was either first or tied for first on the team in seven different offensive categories.
In addition to home runs, Davis led the team in runs (48), doubles (16), RBI (48), total bases (119), slugging percentage (.536) and walks (31). He also was third on the team in hits (64) and batting average (.288). Unlike Morgan, who will return for his senior season in in 2014, Davis now readies himself for the June major league baseball draft. His size, power and progression during his college career make him an intriguing prospect. In addition to his offensive numbers, Davis also made only four errors all year.
Columbia County players have built a tradition of performing well for the Eagles. Todd Greene, Craig Cassedy, Mark Hamlin, Clint Sauls and Michael Holder are a few of the players who helped build that tradition. It is great to see Davis and Morgan keep it alive.
Now a quick word on the departure of my friend Barry Paschal. I did not work with Barry day-to-day. Our interaction consisted of e-mails a few times a week and a phone call here and there. However, over the past 14 or 15 years, I have come to respect and appreciate Barry more than just about anyone in the media business.
Obviously Barry was a talented writer, but his skill set is far larger than that of a writer.
His knowledge of the area, his grasp of topics from politics to sports was second to none.
I hate to see him go, but I am also excited for him. Goodwill Industries is getting a treasure in Barry Paschal. They will soon appreciate his hard work and dedication, just as his readers and colleagues have over his 30 years in media.