(Photo credit to the Mercer Bears Twitter account)
After winning the SoCon for a third straight season, the Bears look to stretch the streak to four in 2018. Though they lost some veteran talent to graduation and the draft, Mercer brings back a talented and seasoned core led by pitchers Sawyer Gibson-Long and Robert Broom, and hitters JT Thomas and Drew Lingo.
On the mound, the Bears should again be one of the best teams in the Southern Conference. Junior, Robert Broom is coming off a great summer in which he allowed only one earned run, and was named to the Cape Cod League All-Star Team. Also coming off an impressive summer, and one that saw him take a huge leap forward is Sophomore Sawyer Gibson-Long. Gibson-Long was named an all-star and Pitcher of the Year in the Southern California Collegiate Baseball League. Complimenting Broom and Gibson-Long are Nick Spear, Austin Cox, and Zach Graveno.
Offensively, Mercer should be able to put runs on the board as well as anyone. Returning starters Trey Truitt and Alex Hanson should anchor a veteran-laden outfield, while JT Thomas and Drew Lingo should be solid yet again. Coming off a season in which he was expected to be the next great Mercer outfielder following in the steps of Kyle Lewis, Truitt got off to a slow start and struggled to get going offensively down the stretch. Look for him to turn things around this year, and put his name back up on draft boards.
Thomas, who was a Great Lakes League All-Star, will be relied upon to provide the power to what looks to be a rock-solid Bears’ lineup. In addition to all the returning talent the Bears have, newcomers Kyle Dockus and RJ Yeager should provide some depth in the infield.
The Bears have the talent and experience to be considered the front-runner to win the SoCon again in 2018, and with all the returners they have on the mound and offensively there is no reason why they shouldn’t repeat as conference champions.