2021 SoCon Tournament Champions looking improve on pre-conference performance
After seven weeks of pre-conference play, the Southern Conference schedule is in sight for the Samford Bulldogs baseball team.
Prior to the series against Missouri State, the Bulldogs are currently 12-10 in pre-conference play. The Bulldogs have just one pre-conference opponent remaining: the Alabama Crimson Tide (15-11).
On Tuesday, March 29, the Bulldogs hosted the UAB Blazers on Joe Lee Griffin Field. The Blazers were led by head coach Casey Dunn, the former head coach at Samford for 17 seasons.
The Bulldogs fell to the Blazers, 8-4.
The “Hometown Showdown” matchup started off tightly, with the score standing at 2-2 after the second inning. The Blazers then showcased their hitting power, scoring six more runs in five innings. UAB had lost two consecutive games against Samford prior to last week’s game.
Through the seven weeks of pre-conference play, several offensive players have emerged as impact players from the Bulldogs.
Catcher Kaden Dreier is currently tied for the most homeruns on the team with six. He also leads the team in RBI’s with 24. Dreier, the junior from Brentwood, Tennessee, has already doubled the amount of homeruns that he hit during the entire 2021 season.
Junior Towns King has upgraded his role from important to crucial for the Bulldogs this season. He is tied with Dreier for the most homeruns on the team (6), leads the team in slugging percentage (.701) and is second on the team for batting average (.351).
As for the bullpen, the Bulldogs still appear to be searching for their ace.
The lowest ERA of any starting pitcher belongs to Jacob Cravey with 3.64 through 29 innings pitched. Cravey picked up an impressive upset victory over UCF on March 25. Brody Westbrooks has pitched the second-most amount of innings with 28 and has a 6.59 ERA to begin the season.
If more bats begin to produce, and starting pitchers find their groove in the next few weeks, the Bulldogs have a very probable chance to finish the SoCon schedule at the top.
The first series against VMI will be an interesting indicator of what pitcher head coach Tony David is most comfortable with going forward. Though Cravey has been impressive recently, each starting pitcher has room to improve.
Last weekend, the Bulldogs lost two games to the Missouri State Bears in their final pre-conference series of the season. The Bulldogs were outscored by the Bears 27-17 on the weekend.
The Bulldogs’ first conference series will be at home against the VMI Keydets. The Keydets are currently 8-16 to begin the season. Last season, Samford swept VMI in their series on April 3, 2021.
The VMI series will begin this Friday, April 8 at 6 p.m. Games two and three will both begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.