2022 Gulf South Baseball Championship

GSC Baseball Championship Preview: Delta State, Valdosta State Lead Charge

GSC Baseball Championship Preview: Delta State, Valdosta State Lead Charge

Delta State and Valdosta State look to be primed for the GSC Championship, but the rest of the conference is ready to compete for the league's crown jewel.

Apr 30, 2022 by Briar Napier
GSC Baseball Championship Preview: Delta State, Valdosta State Lead Charge

The Gulf South Conference is ready to kick off its yearly championship, with much left to play for in the Division II league. 

A conference full of professional alums and plenty of silverware in the sport, its postseason tournament—the GSC Championship—will see the league’s top eight teams duke it out from May 6-10 at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Alabama.

Here’s the rundown on teams that’ll be playing (and could be playing) for a guaranteed spot in the Division II NCAA Tournament—with all games streamed live on FloBaseball

NOTE: Statistics and records are updated as of Friday afternoon. Championship seeds are yet to be finalized.

In The Hunt

Of the eight schools that’ll be playing in next weekend’s tournament, three spots are still to be decided during the final weekend of the regular season. Lee is in the most favorable spot as the Flames currently sit at 14-12 in league play (.538) and in sole place of sixth in the standings ahead of their final regular season series against West Florida, which has already clinched a spot to Oxford. Shorter, currently in seventh at 15-13 against GSC teams, could use a win or two against Auburn Montgomery this weekend to feel a bit more comfortable with its chances. Lastly, two Alabama Huntsville (13-13 in GSC play) wins over West Alabama (already eliminated from postseason contention) would lock the Chargers in the eighth seed over West Georgia (12-14), currently ninth in the league table.

West Florida Argonauts

The record: 22-19 (15-10 GSC)

The lowdown: The Argos aren’t quite the 37-win buzzsaw that made it to the NCAA South Regional final last season, but the 2011 Division II national champions have pedigree and a program-wide knowledge about how to succeed in the postseason. Even if UWF doesn’t get to where it likely wants to be this season, the future is bright. Sophomore infielder Trent Jeffcoat is one of the top hitters in the GSC (.378 average), while freshman infielder Brady Browning leads the league in on base percentage (.506) and would likely be near the top of many conference statistical charts had he not been sidelined due to injury at points this year. The bullpen is strong (league-high 13 saves) and left-hander Salvatore Ferro is the ace (6-2, 3.56 ERA).

Auburn Montgomery Warhawks

The record: 29-18 (17-11 GSC)

The lowdown: AUM officially welcomed the rest of the league to its presence by making its first GSC Championship appearance last season following the completion of its transition period from NAIA to Division II—one which prevented the Warhawks from competing in the postseason. AUM just barely snuck in then as a No. 8 seed—it could be a top-four seed this time around. The Warhawks, with a .307 team batting average, are the second-best squad in the category across the league, though they prefer contact to power as AUM has only tallied 27 home runs on the season. Right-handed junior Andrew Cronan leads the rotation and GSC with eight wins, but fellow junior Luke Turner has been the top starter overall with a 3.39 ERA and 59 strikeouts, both of which rank top-10 in the conference. 

Montevallo Falcons

The record: 33-12 (16-10 GSC)

The lowdown: Coach Chandler Rose has been one of the best coaches in GSC this year, taking the Falcons from second-to-last—and a 9-24 record—in the conference in 2021 to a potential top-three seed in the GSC Championship. With a 22-2 record at home and a 16-2 record in non-conference play, the Falcons will be dangerous this postseason. The league leaders across the season in most hitting categories including average (.310), home runs (65) and RBI (344), Montevallo has scored at least 10 runs in a game 18 times this season and could light up the scoreboard anywhere, anytime. The away record (11-10) is a bit concerning, and though the Falcons didn’t have a neutral-site game on their regular season schedule this season, it could indicate that the team grows uncomfortable outside the confines of Montevallo, Alabama.

Valdosta State Blazers

The record: 29-12 (17-9 GSC)

The lowdown: The Blazers could be amid a case of getting hot at the right time, winning six of their past seven games ahead of the postseason. However, VSU will have one of the longer breaks following its final game leading into the postseason. The team won their final regular-season matchup against Flagler on Wednesday—nine days before the first round of GSC Championship play. It was a brilliant season from junior infielder EJ Doskow, who ranks second in the GSC in both batting average (.399) and RBI (52). The rotation is also a downright dominant unit, with Elijah Gill (2.47 ERA) and Brandon Raiden (2.70 ERA) not just the only pair of qualifying teammates in the GSC with sub-3.00 ERAs—but the only two players in the league to have them, period.

Delta State Statesmen

The record: 27-13 (17-7 GSC)

The lowdown: Steady as the Statesmen go. Delta State’s numbers often aren’t eye-popping at first glance, but coach Rodney Batts’ team has been exceptional throughout the year, and is likely on the road to the top seed in the GSC Tournament—assuming the Statesmen take care of business in its series this weekend against last-placed Christian Brothers. Six different players have at least 25 RBI this year, with redshirt senior second baseman Jake Barlow bringing the power to the plate with 13 home runs and 39 RBI. The pitching staff may have a middling 5.46 team ERA at first glance, but has also only allowed a .262 opposing batting average on top of it. Another deep postseason run could be ahead for one of Division II’s most historic programs.