Former Greenbrier High School slugger Rich Poythress tore his ACL five months ago. Because of the injury, the 6-3, 240-pound freshman was expected to redshirt this season. However, his knee healed more quickly than expected, and Poythress soon found himself getting at-bats and some spot duty at first base in Athens.
Poythress' talent has made it extremely difficult for University of Georgia coaches to keep him out of the lineup, and recently few hitters in college baseball have been hotter.
In his last six games, Poythress is hitting .692 (9-for-13) with seven walks. He has reached base 16 of the last 20 times he has stepped in the batter's box, which gives him an astonishing on-base percentage of .800 during that span.
In Georgia's 17-1 victory against Furman on Wednesday, Poythress had a two-run double in the first inning and went 3-for-4 with three RBI. That raised his season average to a team-best .400. He also leads the team in on-base percentage at .531.
Despite his ability at the plate, it's Poythress' defense that will likely keep him in the starting lineup.
In 36 chances at first base, the four-time All-Columbia County performer has yet to make an error. The Dogs are struggling a bit at 10-14 on the season, but keep in mind Poythress was one of six freshmen to start Wednesday. So the future in Athens is bright.
Narrowly getting a Masters invite may not be so bad in 2007
This time of year I usually try to go through the Masters field and pick out a group of golfers who I feel will play well at Augusta. Last year I chose a list of players who would be considered dark horses. Well, as I looked over the list of invitees for the 2007 Masters, I kept going to a list of golfers who just squeaked into the field.
Seven golfers used the final qualifications to get their invitation to golf's most prestigious event. Each had to either be among the top 10 on this year's money list or have moved into the Top 50 in the World Golf Rankings as of last Monday.
The biggest name among the group for local golf fans is Augusta native Charles Howell. No one looks forward to teeing it up at Augusta more than Howell. He used his disappointing showing in 2006 as fuel during off-season preparation.
Last year Howell finished dead last in the field but has kicked his game into high gear in 2007. He is third on the money list, third in the Fed Ex Cup Standings and has picked up his second career win.
Because of the way he has played in recent months, I would not be surprised to see Howell redeem himself with a deep run this April.
In addition to Howell, I expect several of the last-minute Masters additions to make some noise. Youngster Aaron Baddeley (Australia) is as capable as any young player in the field. Justin Rose is another "young gun" who has as much game as anyone in the field (Tiger Woods not included, of course).
I also think John Rollins and Mark Calcavecchia could be players to watch this week.
When Calcavecchia gets hot he can make birdies in bunches. He also has a great deal of experience at Augusta National. Rollins has incredible length off the tee, and although I think you don't have to be a long knocker to win, it does not hurt.
I'm not so sure Bart Bryant and Paul Goydos are capable of donning the Green Jacket, but the five players mentioned above, in my opinion, are all in the mix this year.
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