GUYTON — The South Effingham baseball season is underway and there's a different level of energy within the program.
First-year head coach Todd Eubanks is looking forward to leading the way for the Mustangs.
"I want our kids to be mentally tough and be able to face adversity," Eubanks saod. "Our schedule is going to be one that is going to challenge us and we've got to be able to rise up to the challenge. We've got to get better each day.
“As we go through the year, we'll get better. Come May, if we are fortunate enough that we're one of the four (in Region 2-AAAAA) still playing, then we should have ourselves ready to go to make a challenge to have special season."
Eubanks has been a staple in Georgia coaching ranks, making stops at Peach County and, most recently, at Bowdon. As he prepares for his stint in Guyton, Eubanks is hoping to revitalize the Mustangs, who are traditionally solid but barely cracked .500 last year.
“I've had some connections with South Effingham prior to this through Team Georgia,” Eubanks said. “When it came open, it intrigued me enough to look into it. We've had a very good offseason preparing for this year.”
Although the Mustangs lost a strong senior class, including catcher Doug Williams, nearly a dozen players return, making the Mustangs a seasoned bunch.
Pitcher Jakob Valleroy, who Eubanks expects to be an ace, as well as preseason all-state selection Dylan Wallace, are back. Wallace was named the Region 2-AAAA Player of the Year last season.
Brice Ogle and Chase Warren should also be strong contributors.
“They were a good group of seniors,” Eubanks said. “The juniors got a lot of playing time. The senior class was small last year so we have eight returning seniors. Age-wise, we are a little bit of an older team this year. Jakob has been starting since he was a sophomore. (And my guys are) pretty solid in the outfield. We have strong pitching depth. Our infield is very solid.”
South Effingham boasts one of the toughest schedules in the area, with most on its slate having postseason experience.
“Everybody on our schedule made the playoffs with the exception of one team,” Eubanks said. “This year we will be battle tested. We are going to have our hands full with the season laid out in front of us.”
The Mustangs open the season Monday at 6 p.m. at Effingham County.