ATLANTA -- Already owning the third-highest win total in school history, Georgia State looks for a strong finish as the Panthers conclude the regular season with a Colonial Athletic Association series at William and Mary. Games are scheduled for Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. at Plumeri Park.
The Panthers (34-19, 13-11 CAA) have won seven of their last eight conference games and 18 of 24 overall and could finish as high as second place in the CAA standings. William and Mary (33-19, 15-9 CAA) currently occupies second place.
Only two Georgia State teams have won more games than this year’s edition - the 2009 NCAA Tournament team that finished 39-22 and the 2011 squad that won 37 games, which stands as the school record for regular-season victories.
The Panthers continue to rank among the nation’s top five in batting average (.324, 2nd), hits (621, 2nd), runs (417, 3rd), runs per game (7.9, 5th) and doubles (132, 1st). GSU is fifth nationally in slugging (.468) and 11th in on-base percentage (.408).
GSU shortstop Chad Prain, named to the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award Watch List, is enjoying one of the top offensive seasons in the nation, ranking second in the NCAA in hits (87) and seventh in batting average (.410). He also has 48 RBI and 15 stolen bases, and the GSU shortstop helps the Panthers rank ninth in the nation in double plays.
Prain enters the weekend in reach of the GSU season record for hits of 91, set by Mark Micowski and Brandon Williams in 2010.
Freshman center fielder Josh Merrigan, a three-time CAA Rookie of the Week and a strong candidate for Freshman All-America honors, leads all conference freshmen in batting average (.354), hits (80), runs scored (51), RBI (34), total bases (114) and stolen bases (12). Among all freshmen in the nation, Merrigan is second in hits and runs scored and fourth in batting average. His 80 hits rank ninth nationally among all players.
Junior outfielder-designated hitter Chase Raffield is batting .376 and leads the Panthers with nine home runs and 50 RBI, ranking fourth in the CAA homers and RBI and third in slugging (.635).
Freshman right-hander Matt Rose (2-2, 1.21 ERA), this week’s CAA Rookie of the Week, will make his second weekend start. The rotation also includes another freshman, left-hander Garrett Ford (4-3, 5.71), as well as junior southpaw Andrew Fessler (6-1, 2.59). Raffield is 12-for-22 in the last five games. Another hot hitter for the Panthers is left fielder Chris Triplett, who has three homers and 11 RBI in the last five games.
Fessler enters the final weekend of the regular season with a chance to break the school record for earned run average (2.73 by Billy Boughey in 2000) and equal the GSU mark for winning percentage (.875/7-1 by Justin Malone, 2011).
ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER ROOKIE HONOR: Pitcher-infielder Matt Rose is Georgia State’s latest CAA Rookie of the Week honoree, winning his second award of the season this week. His is the eighth award for GSU this season.
Rose pitched GSU to a Friday night win over Hofstra in his first weekend start. He threw a career-high 7.1 innings and allowed just three runs on four hits with five strikeouts. He batted .462 with a homer and five RBI on the week.
The Melbourne, Fla., native was named CAA Rookie of the Week for the first time on April 8 after helping GSU to sweep of Fordham as he batted .400 (4-for-10) with four RBI in three games and also earned a save on the mound.
ANOTHER 30-WIN SEASON: With a 34-19 record and three games remaining, Georgia State is putting together one of the top records in school history, including a fifth winning season in the last six seasons under head coach Greg Frady.
To put that in perspective, before Frady took over as head coach in 2007, the GSU program had posted only two winning seasons in its history - 1980 (30-25) and 2000 (31-28).
GEORGIA STATE’S 30-WIN SEASONS
Season Record Head Coach
2009 39-22 Greg Frady
2011 37-21 Greg Frady
2013 34-19 Greg Frady
2010 34-23-1 Greg Frady
2008 33-23 Greg Frady
2000 31-28 Mike Hurst
1980 30-25 Jack Humphrey
THE SERIES VS. WILLIAM AND MARY: Georgia State leads the series with William and Mary, 14-6, and the Panthers have won the season series with the Tribe every year since joining the CAA except 2006 and 2008. GSU’s last four losses to the Tribe have been by one run.
Last season in Atlanta, the Georgia State won the first two games, 7-6 and 1-0, before falling 6-5 on Sunday.
GSU has won seven of nine games played at William and Mary, including two of three there in 2011.
EIGHT ROOKIE WINNERS IN 13 WEEKS: Illustrating the talent and impact of Georgia State’s freshman class, the Panthers have had the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week winner eight times in 13 weeks this season, including four in a row in one stretch.
Center fielder Josh Merrigan leads the way with three awards, while starting pitcher Garrett Ford and pitcher-infielder Matt Rose have two each, and starting pitcher Nathan Bates has also been honored.
Merrigan, Rose and catcher Joey Roach regularly start in the field, and on the mound, Bates and Ford have been weekend starters, and Rose has been both a closer and a weekend starter.
The trio of Merrigan, Rose and Roach have combined for nearly 500 at-bats, a .316 batting average, nine homers, 84 RBI and 100 runs scored.
On the mound, Ford, Bates and Rose have logged nearly 150 innings, posting a 4.05 ERA, eight wins and five saves.
PRAIN NAMED TO BROOKS WALLACE AWARD WATCH LIST: Junior shortstop Chad Prain, enjoying one of the top offensive seasons in the nation, was named last week to the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award watch list. The Valdosta, Ga., native is batting .410, ranking second in the NCAA in hits (87) and seventh in batting average. He also ranks among the national leaders with 48 RBI, despite generally batting in the leadoff or number two spot. He has four homers, 16 doubles and one triple, along with 15 stolen bases. He also helps the Panthers rank ninth in the nation with 54 double plays.
Prain had a hitting streak of 20 games, two shy of the school record, and he also had a streak of reaching base in 37 straight games. He has 27 multi-hit games.
MERRIGAN RANKS AMONG NATION’S TOP FRESHMEN: Georgia State center fielder Josh Merrigan is a strong candidate for the CAA Rookie of the Year Award as well as Freshman All-America honors.
For the season, Merrigan is batting .354 with three homers, 34 RBI and 51 runs scored. He is 12-for-12 on stolen bases. In two of the last three CAA series, he has homered in one-run victories for Georgia State.
He leads all conference freshmen in batting average, hits, runs, RBI, total bases and stolen bases while ranking third overall in hits and runs scored.
Merrigan ranks second among all freshmen in the nation hits and runs scored and fourth in batting average. His 80 hits rank ninth in the NCAA among all players.
PANTHERS ON THE OFFENSIVE: Georgia State features one of the nation’s most productive offenses. GSU ranks among the nation’s top five in batting average (.324, 2nd), hits (621, 2nd), runs (417, 3rd), doubles (132, 1st) and runs per game (7.9, 5th). The Panthers are sixth nationally in slugging (.468) and 11th in on-base percentage (.408).
Junior shortstop Chad Prain leads the way with an eye-catching .410 batting average that is seventh in the nation, followed by DH Chase Raffield at .376 and freshman center fielder Josh Merrigan at .354.
In 2010, Georgia State led the nation in runs scored with 10.5 per game and ranked third with a .355 batting average.
ROSE TAKES ON DUAL ROLE: After playing primarily as an infielder for the first half of the season, freshman Matt Rose now has begun to see more time on the mound, first as a closer and now as a starter.
The 6-3 right-hander (2-2) has five saves and a 1.82 ERA in 15 appearances. In his last nine appearances (all since April 7), Rose has four saves and two wins and has allowed just four earned runs.
Rose also plays first base or third base and is batting .269 with three homers and 27 RBI.
THE THRILL OF THE CHASE: Junior Chase Raffield is putting up productive power numbers for the Panthers. The left-handed hitting outfielder-DH leads the team with nine home runs, 19 doubles, 50 RBI and a .635 slugging percentage. He is batting .376, and he ranks fourth in the CAA in homers and RBI and third in slugging.