Georgia welcomes back eight starters from last season headlined by senior Levi Hyams (.332-5-38 in 2011) at second base and junior Kyle Farmer (.308-8-58 in 2011) at shortstop. A familiar face in a new place is senior Colby May (.222-2-5 in 2011) as he moves from the hot corner to first base. A pair of freshmen to watch will be left fielder Hunter Cole and designated hitter Jared Walsh. Walsh will split time with junior Brett DeLoach (.263-5-27 in 2011).
The Georgia coaching staff returns in tact from a year ago with David Perno at the helm for his 11th season. Perno's assistants are Jason Eller, Allen Osborne and Jason Jacobs.
Sr Colby May will move from 3rd to 1st baseRedshirt-sophomore LHP Alex Wood (6-7, 4.44 ERA in 2011) draws the Opening Day start. When we last saw Wood, he was instrumental in extending Georgia's 2011 season. He tossed his first career complete game in beating Auburn 3-2 to keep Georgia's season alive in the SEC Tournament and then followed it up with eight strong innings in beating UALR 7-3 in an elimination game at the NCAA Corvallis (Ore.) Regional.
Senior RHP Michael Palazzone (10-5, 3.14 ERA in 2011) goes on Saturday. He is one of the top returning pitchers in the SEC after posting seven wins over ranked foes in 2011. During the SEC regular season, he went 7-2 with a 3.22 ERA and three complete games. Palazzone's wins include beating #3 Vanderbilt, #4 Florida, #5 Florida State, #9 LSU, #14 Arkansas and #24 Miss. State. He made the SEC All-Tournament team, going 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in two appearances. On two days rest following a loss to #3 Vanderbilt, he went 4.1 innings and allowed one unearned run in getting a win in relief over #3 Florida to reach the SEC Tournament semifinals and qualify the Bulldogs for an NCAA at-large bid.
Georgia returns the rotation that it used down the stretch in 2011 anchored by Palazzone and Wood. However with closer Tyler Maloof (18 saves in 2011) sidelined with a right lat injury until March, junior Blake Dieterich (3-3, 3.67 ERA, 2 SV in 2011) will move to the bullpen/closer role instead of his projected No. 3 starter slot. Thus, redshirt-freshman RHP Taylor Hicks gets the first look at that weekend spot.