If 2013 taught the Albany State baseball team anything, it's that they could compete.
The Golden Rams won the SIAC East division championship last season, but were ousted in the conference tournament.
"It let them know they could potentially be at the top of the conference," says head coach Kenyan Conner. "But at any time, if they don't play to the best of their ability, anyone can beat us."
The Rams say the goal this year is to get back to the tournament and win it.
They just might have the team to do it as well.
The Golden Rams return five seniors from last year's squad, as well as a strong pitching staff.
Conner says if everything goes right, this team has a shot.
"We have a little better starting pitching this year. A lot of kids returning. And some new faces that I think are going to impact us," Conner says. "If they play as a team and just play together, I think we'll be fine."
Among those returning are 2013 All-SIAC selections SS Allen Hardy and C Robert Latner.
Latner says he takes pride in catching for a good pitching staff, and feels this year's gives the Rams a very good shot at a title.
"The key element in baseball is pitching. If you can't see it, you can't hit it," Latner says. "If you have a good pitching staff, you always have a real good chance. And we have a good pitching staff here at Albany State."
The Rams open the 2014 season Saturday when they host conference foe Miles in a double header.
Hardy says the opening weekend not only provides a chance to get off on the right foot, but also a little revenge.
"Miles knocked us out last year in the [SIAC] tournament," Latner says. "Starting good on Miles would be a great note for us. That would be a win we look forward to."
Conner believes picking up a couple conference wins could help boost the team's confidence even higher.
"They want to get off to a good start and start off on a winning note," Conner says. "I think it's a good opportunity for us to do so."
The first pitch of the 2014 season happens at Hampton Smith Baseball Field Saturday at noon.
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