by Jalen Rudolph
Over the past three seasons, the Norfolk State baseball program has had great success. The Spartans have brought the MEAC north division regular season title in those three years back home to Norfolk, but in each year they have fell short in the tournament.
This year’s team will have a new look and will be very young with only three seniors on the roster. Also, there is a new sheriff in town as Coach Claudell Clark resigned in the fall.
The Spartans will be led by interim coach Keith Shumate. Shumate will be a familiar face in the MEAC, as he was once the head coach at North Carolina A&T for 15 seasons.
During his tenure at North Carolina A&T, he accumulated over 300 wins and won a MEAC title in 2005 and was once named MEAC Coach of the Year.
One of the biggest question for the young Spartans will be the pitching staff, as they lose three starters on the mound.
There is no replacing arguably the best pitcher in school history Devin Hemmerich, who has enjoyed early success for the Dodgers Single-A team.
The Spartans will look to junior RHP Chase Anderson as their new ace on the mound, who was an All-MEAC selection last year.
There are also some questions for the middle infield as freshman Alsander Womack and sophomore Dwight Riddick compete for the starting second base job.
Freshman Jaran Davis and sophomore Johnny Mayer are in a close battle for the starting shortstop position.
Senior Justin Burrell will be back in the hot corner and sophomore Stephen Baughan will be seeing time at first and as a DH.
The outfield will be the biggest strength for this team, as speedy junior Justin Hayes will be holding the fort down in center.
There is still an open competition for left field and right field, but there is no wrong answer for who they put out there as junior Syeed Mahdi returns from a season-ending wrist injury and Terrence Pinkston returns for his second full season after transferring from Jackson State.
The captain of the entire ship will be senior catcher Ismael Herrera, as he will play a vital role in orchestrating the defense.
The Spartans are young, fast, and talented.
They may have some early struggles, but expect to make another push for a MEAC North title and make a big run at winning the school’s first ever MEAC baseball title.
Don’t sleep on this young team, as they are very dangerous.