Feb. 1, 2012
The Bulldogs have as many as nine players who will get opportunities to showcase their abilities. Senior Justin Gordey, junior Corey White and sophomores Colby Johnson and Taylor Burch all started at least three games in the outfield last season. Gordey played in 48 games, starting 36 at center field, right field and DH. He hit .301 with 41 hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases and is expected to be the team's starting center fielder.
In left field, Simoneaux will platoon juniors Kody Neel and Stephen Gandy depending on match-ups. The right-handed hitting Gandy had a strong Fall World Series, hitting .385 with two doubles and two RBI.
"Right field is a toss-up just because we have so many new guys and need to give them all a chance to show what they've got," said Simoneaux. He projects Colby Johnson, Taylor Burch or Kimbell to become the everyday right fielder. Johnson played in 38 games in 2011, starting 24 in the outfield. He hit .321 with one home run, 25 hits and eight RBI. He also showcased great plate discipline as he drew 18 walks and ended the 2011 season with a .459 on-base percentage. Burch started three games in right field in 2011, recording a .273 batting average with three RBI and arguably has the strongest arm in the outfield.
"Losing Ford, (Will) Alvis and Roliard was tough for us but we have several candidates out there," Simoneaux said. "It could be an interesting scenario where we might have three different outfield lineups the first three games. We may play nine different outfielders until we decide who our guys are."
Junior Corey White and sophomore Sam Alvis will be key reserves in the outfield. White hit .309 last season in 38 games and stole six bases. He made 13 starts and was used late in games as a pinch runner. Sam Alvis is a dual player and did not start any games in 2011 in the outfield but he started all five Fall World Series games in right field for the Black squad. Alvis led the Black team with a .357 batting average and hit the team's only home run. He ended the series with five hits and three RBI.