Junior Maverik Buffo will be BYU's starting pitcher against Georgia Tech on Friday in the first of three games at the Atlanta Challenge. (Photo by BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick)
No. 21 Georgia Tech starts BYU baseball’s 2017 season this this Friday in the six-team Atlanta Challenge in Georgia.
The Cougars also play afternoon games at Kennesaw State on Saturday and at Georgia State in Decatur on Monday. Tech has also been ranked No. 29 by National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, No. 38 by Collegiate Baseball in addition to its higher ranking by Baseball America. The Cougars received votes in preseason polls by the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball, but were not ranked.
Practice games at Michigan State and at the Caribbean island Curaçao against its national team last semester verified BYU will again be a power hitting team. The silver lining may be how the deep Cougar pitching staff blessed with more lefties delivers during the season after practicing against its slugging teammates.
Fifth-year head Coach Mike Littlewood will start junior righthander Maverik Buffo (6-2, 3.63 in 2016) will on the mound against Georgia Tech. After Friday’s game against the Yellow Jackets, senior redshirt righthander Brady Corless (2-4, 5.51 in 2015) is expected to be BYU’s starting pitcher on Saturday, but Monday’s pitcher is yet to be announced.
"This time of year is like our second Christmas,” Littlewood said. “Opening day is a always a special day for baseball guys and this year is no different. We know we open up with three tough opponents, but at the same time we feel cautiously optimistic about the prospects of our upcoming season. One thing for certain is we have a bunch of guys that will fight for each other and they will leave everything on the field every day."
All-Americans Colton Shaver and Keaton Kringlen have been spotlighted early among the bevy of talented Cougar hitters. Shaver was projected by D1baseball.com as the WCC’s player of the year. Kringlen, a sophomore, brings an 11-game hitting streak into the season. The Cougars have been prognosticated as one of the top four teams in the West Coast Conference as they ready for defense of the league title.
Following the trip to Georgia, the Cougars have consecutive road trips to California to play San Jose State, Northern Colorado and CSU Bakersfield before opening the home season against nationally ranked UC Santa Barbara in a four-game series.
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