ATLANTA -- Friday was the first day of official team practice for college baseball programs across the country, and that means Opening Day for the 2019 Georgia State baseball season is exactly three weeks away.

The Panthers open the season by hosting the fifth annual Atlanta Challenge at the GSU Baseball Complex, beginning Friday, Feb. 15 vs. Richmond at 4 p.m. Georgia State will also face West Virginia (Feb. 16, 2 p.m.) and Illinois-Chicago (Feb. 17, 1 p.m.) on the opening weekend.

"It never gets old," head coach Greg Frady said as he prepares for his 13th Opening Day at the helm of the GSU program.

"I think every baseball player really looks forward to and works toward Opening Day. Outside of playoff baseball, it is the most exciting time of the year."

Frady's squad returns 19 letterwinners, led by one of the top starting pitchers in the Sun Belt Conference and the nation in junior right-hander and Friday starter Hunter Gaddis, who has been recognized as the Preseason Pitcher of the Year in the Sun Belt by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.

Other top returnees include starting pitcher Jake Rogers, two-way standout Brandon Bell, first baseman Ryan Glass and outfielder Luke Leonard. The Panthers have added 18 newcomers, of which 10 are freshmen.