Lee University baseball coach Mark Brew could do nothing but shake his head as he peered out his office window and viewed the falling snow, realizing his team will go from snowballs to baseball on Saturday.
His Flames are scheduled to open the 2014 baseball season with a doubleheader against Emmanuel College, with first pitch at 2 p.m. A single game will be played on Sunday, also at 2.
Brew admits getting his club ready for the upcoming season has not been easy. "It has been a difficult few weeks of preparation with the freezing temperatures, and now we have to deal with snow. However, I want to compliment our players. They have come to work and prepare every day and have not complained.
"The weather has been bad on everyone and the teams that handle it the best will be better able to handle the early part of the schedule," he added. "So I like where we currently are in terms of preparation, in spite of the tough elements we have had to endure."
The professional baseball scouts flocked to Olympic Field last season and signed five quality arms from Lee's pitching staff.
"It's difficult to lose one arm with professional ability, much less five," noted Brew. "However, I really have been pleased with this year's pitching staff thus far. Though this staff will have different strengths than last year's [harder-throwing] staff, I really think we have a chance to once again be a quality pitching staff."
Senior right-hander Jeremy Stawychny will get the ball for the opener on Saturday. Junior righty Nikolay Uherek, a transfer from Georgia Perimeter College, will start the second game, and red-shirt right-hander Dustin Lawson will get the call on Sunday.
"Almost everyone will get a chance to get on the mound early and show what they can do," explained Brew. "We will need every arm to fill various roles as we progress into the 2014 season."
Award-winning fielder Josh Silver will be one of the team leaders. Brew calls Silver one of the top shortstops in the country, regardless of level. "He is as good defensively as anyone I have seen in a while, and he is also our top returning offensive player," pointed out the Lee coach.
Senior outfielder/pitcher Derrick Pitts should be a key in the middle of the lineup, according to Brew. "We have solid team speed led by (junior transfer) center fielder Siosi Poti and second baseman Andres Nelo, also a junior transfer.
"We also have some guys in the middle of the lineup in seniors Zac Hawkins, Cameron Brewster, Jordan Stewart and Blake Ray that are capable run producers, in addition to Silver and Pitts. Defensively, I think we could really be good, led by Silver and Poti and junior Josh Tate, who is a strong defensive catcher."
The Flames begin play in the Gulf South Conference on Feb. 15, when they travel to Jackson to test an old TranSouth Conference rival in Union University.
"All I can say is we better be prepared on a daily basis," said Brew. "We pride ourselves on preparation, but that will be tested to the max this year with so many quality opponents on our schedule.
“Everyone will be well coached and will have teams that can execute. Our level of execution and preparedness will have to be at an all-time high for us to have any type of successful run in 2014."