Some folks think we may fall off the face of the earth but the group we have is young and scrappy. Talent-wise, we are going to be fine. They are hungry and they are out to prove that they can compete at the high school level and uphold the South Effingham tradition.Mustangs head coach Todd Eubanks
GUYTON — South Effingham’s baseball lineup changes every year but its aspirations and expectation don’t.
The Mustangs are constantly reminded of their rich history. They walk past a wall that lists their team’s numerous postseason appearances every time they enter their stadium.
Many of this year’s Mustangs haven’t been around long enough to make much history, however. The program includes 15 sophomores and 14 freshmen. It also has three seniors and six juniors.
“We are going to be very young on paper,” second-year Mustangs head coach Todd Eubanks said.
South Effingham had 12 seniors last season, which ended with a first-round playoff ouster.
“Some folks think we may fall off the face of the earth but the group we have is young and scrappy,” Eubanks said. “Talent-wise, we are going to be fine. They are hungry and they are out to prove that they can compete at the high school level and uphold the South Effingham tradition.”
The Mustangs’ history is what attracted Eubanks to The Corral.
He said, “Being just my second year here, I can’t say I have a lot to do with the tradition but we do bring up players who were here in the past — not only (Houston Astros outfielder Josh) Reddick, (Oakland A’s pitcher J.B.) Wendelken, (former Colorado Rockies pitching prospect) Austin Chambliss and other guys who went on to play pro ball — but a wealth of them who played college ball from here. When people think of South Effingham, they know there is a rich baseball tradition. They players know there is a legacy here and they embrace it.
“They are excited to be a part of it.”
Eubanks said he and his team won’t use inexperience as “a crutch.”
“They’ve known since last May that we were going to be a young ball club,” Eubanks said. “These kids have been working hard. They’ve been coming in before school to lift weights in the morning three days a week and they’ve worked hard after school.
“They’ve put in the time where they are freshmen in name but they will get their licks in. It’s going to come down to how fast they can adjust to the speed of a varsity ball game.”
Just like last year, the Mustangs’ schedule is packed with powerful teams, including Region 2-AAAAAA’s Effingham County, Glynn Academy and Brunswick.
“We will be battle tested by the time we get to our region (2-AAAAA) games,” Eubanks said.
South Effingham has a few returning starters, including Nick Milbrandt at first base, Phillip Cooper at second base and Bryce Ogle at third base. Returning starter Hunter Morgan gives the team an experienced arm.
“Outside of that, it’s about competition,” Eubanks said. “Competition makes you try harder and work a little more.”
Eubanks expects the battle for 2-AAAAA playoff spots to be a free-for-all.
“Statesboro has a lot of experience coming back and will be a good ball club,” he said. “Wayne County has a very experienced club that is going to be very talented. We will be ready by the time we get there.”
The Mustangs will open the season with a three-game series next week against Effingham County. The opener is Monday at 6 p.m. at The Corral.