The college baseball season is underway, and Georgia State faces the most grueling schedule in program history. However, third basemen Griffin Cheney is excited for the schedule and program in 2021.
Many fans are taken back by the schedule, which includes the reigning champion Vanderbilt Commodores. However, before the season began, the Panthers, junior third -baseman provided a glimpse into the beginning of the year.
“I’m excited about the schedule,” Cheney said. “I’m confident in myself and our guys to have a great season.”
Georgia State opened up its season with a split against the No. 13 West Virginia Mountaineers. After losing the first game, the Panthers swept the doubleheader on Feb. 20’s double-header, which included a 20-4 rout of the Mountaineers. While the Panthers dropped a game vs. Georgia, they pulled a thrilling 4-2 victory over third-ranked Vanderbilt.
“I think our offense can be lethal this season,” Cheney said. “We saw how good we can be last year with guys like [Elian] Merejo we feel can compete with anyone.”
Before the 2020 season ended abruptly almost a year ago, Georgia State’s offense ranked as one of the best in the Sun Belt Conference, and the team finished with a 9-7 record. Cheney is confident that the Panthers can continue their offensive explosion against top competition.
“The schedule is going to be a huge test for us,” Cheney said. “I’m excited that we play against the best of the best like Vanderbilt and [Georgia] Tech.
The Panthers have their work cut out for them this season, and the entire staff understands the challenge.
Entering the first game of the series with the Commodores, Cheney knew that his club would come out strong.
“I’m really excited for the Vanderbilt series coming up,” Cheney said. “They’re still the reigning champs, and I can’t wait to see how we matchup against the Commodores.”
Cheney and the Panthers opened the series on Friday with a 4-2 win, the biggest upset in program history.
The series at Vandy is one of Cheney’s favorites as he relished the opportunity to face a talented program. The Panthers also looked at Kumar Rocker, the top overall prospect in the 2021 MLB Draft, in the three-game series.
“[Vanderbilt] has a talented squad. Cheney said. “I think it’s great for our young guys to play the best in the game.”
The Panthers are in the midst of 14 straight games against ranked teams and 18 consecutive games against Power 5 teams. In those first few series, Georgia State has defeated three nationally-ranked foes in the first six games.
However, moving forward, Cheney is more focused on being a contributor to the team during those tough matchups. He batted an impressive .302 in the 16 games of 2020 and hit .290 for his career.
“Right now, I’m working on improving [my] skills as a player and teammate,” Cheney said. “We know we have a bunch of talent in this dugout, and I’m just doing my part.”
Against West Virginia, Cheney collected four hits and drove in two runs in a solid series. The Panthers will need his bat and his leadership to bring the baseball program to Georgia State prominence.
“I’m really excited for the future of the program,” Cheney said. “We have a ton of talent, and Stromdahl is doing a great job of leading the team.”