Pritcher, Jackson ready to carry the load as Citadel baseball opens season
The Citadel’s Fred Jordan calls himself a “two-catcher guy,” a baseball coach who likes to split catching duties fairly evenly between two players.
But as the Bulldogs open their season today against George Mason (4 p.m., Riley Park), Jordan is planning on using one catcher -- junior Joe Jackson -- for most of the 56-game schedule.
“He will catch every day that he feels he can,” Jordan said of Jackson, a 6-1, 195-pounder from Mauldin.
Last season, Jackson hit .279 with one home run and 26 runs batted-in while playing in 58 games and sharing catching duties with departed senior Grant Richards. This season, Jackson is expected to be behind the plate up to 90 percent of the time, with sophomore Ryan Kilgallen getting occasional backup duty.
“I’m ready for it,” said Jackson. “It means a lot that Coach Jordan thinks I can handle that, and handle all the pitchers. I like to be in there every day, no matter what, but I’ll do what the team needs me to do.”
Jackson’s battery mate today will be senior Austin Pritcher, penciled in for a second season as the Bulldogs’ Friday night starter. Pritcher, a 6-1, 200-pound right-hander from James Island, was 6-5 with a 3.19 earned-run average last season.
He did not play summer ball last year, and has put on weight and gained strength in the off-season.
“My battery’s recharged and I feel great,” Pritcher said. “I put on about 20 pounds of muscle and got in some good work with our strength coaches.”
Pritcher will be joined in the starting rotation this weekend by sophomore left-hander James Reeves (6-4, 4.44 ERA last year) and freshman right-hander Austin Mason of Greer High School.
The Bulldogs will face Kansas State at 4 p.m. Saturday and High Point at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in the Homewood Suites Tournament presented by Charleston Crab House.
The tourney schedule: Today--Kansas State vs. High Point, noon; George Mason vs. Citadel, 4 p.m.; Sunday -- High Point vs. George Mason, noon; Kansas Stae vs. Citadel, 4 p.m.; George Mason vs. Kansas State, 10 a.m.; High Point at The Citadel, 1:30 p.m.