Scott Stricklin had a simple message for his team on the whiteboard he uses to dictate such things: “you can only worry about things you can control.”
After what has been a rough week and a half for the Bulldogs (15-23, 4-11 SEC), they’ll host Vanderbilt (23-15, 7-8) for a weekend series at Foley Field. Here are three things to watch in this matchup:
The Bulldogs will be without their starting third baseman for the forseeable future, as Aaron Schunk has a broken thumb and will go undergo surgery Friday.
The injury happened as Schunk was rounding first base and slipped in the grass, Stricklin said. He’ll be replaced by Mitchell Webb, who has experience at the position as the starter last year.
“Mitchell’s played for two years,” Stricklin said. “He’ll step in and be just fine. Aaron’s a really good player, was learning as he went along still as a young kid, but kept gettting better and better. I feel bad for him and I feel bad for our team.”
Georgia’s downfall over the past few weeks has been falling behind early. Against Clemson, it was able to score seven runs, but that was after going down 7-1 in the early innings. While their ability to come back lately should be lauded, it still hasn’t resulted in wins.
“It’s nice to show some fight but still loss, it’s another loss on our record,” Michael Curry, who’s been the team’s designated hitter more and more as of late, said. “I think we need to have that throughout the whole game and earlier.”
Curry reiterated something Stricklin has talked about a good bit lately — allowing too many free bases. He said that needs to change for the team to have a good weekend.
Georgia will throw Andrew Gist and Chase Adkins the first two games to account for rest, and that moves the usual question mark at Saturday to Sunday as the team tries to find a solution in that spot.
As for Vanderbilt, Georgia’s recent struggles with a deficit early on in games could prove problematic.
“[We need to] keep them off base early because they like to do a lot of small stuff — hit and run, bunt, safety squeeze,” Stricklin said.
It’s in essence a clash between one team’s Achilles heel and another’s strength, and something will have to give.
“I talked to the guys after [Clemson] yesterday and said we need to have a different mentality,” Curry said. That’s the only way it’s going to change is if we change our mentality and have a little swagger about ourselves or something like that.”
The first game of the series will be on Friday at 7 p.m.