ATLANTA -- With Opening Day exactly three weeks away, the Georgia State baseball team held its first official team practice of the 2018 season Friday afternoon, the start day for college baseball teams across the nation.

The Panthers open by hosting the Atlanta Challenge at the GSU Baseball Complex, beginning on Friday, Feb. 16 vs. Bradley at 4 p.m. Connecticut (Saturday, 2 p.m.) and Minnesota (Sunday, 1 p.m.) also visit for the fourth annual event, held in conjuction with Atlanta neighbors Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State.

"A lot of good things - that was really fun today," head coach Greg Frady said as he enters his 12th season at the helm of the GSU program.

"We played seven innings and had some really good at-bats," continued Frady, the Panthers' career leader in victories. "The pace was good, the execution was good. I just thought, all in all, the team was really ready to play, and that's the sign of a veteran team. You could clearly see that we're in a pretty good place with three weeks to play."

The Panthers' top veterans include senior shortstop Justin Jones, the two-time Academic All-American, junior catcher Nick Gatewood, who was GSU's leading hitter in 2016, and sophomore starting pitcher Hunter Gaddis, the right-hander who pitched for Team USA last summer.

Other key returnees include senior infielder Will Kilgore, senior first baseman Jack Thompson, and senior pitchers Tanner Thomson, Bryan White and Jansen Acton.

"We have really good team chemistry," Frady said. "The older guys are leading by example, and the younger guys are bringing really so much good energy, and it's just fun to be out there."

Some of the top newcomers for the Panthers a trio of junior college transfers in first baseman-outfielder Jake Corso, a big left-handed hitter, outfielder Enrique Ferrer, and right-handed starting pitcher Jake Rogers.