Everybody in college sports has had to adapt amidst the ongoing pandemic. Even as vaccines begin to rollout, spring sports are not untouchable when it comes to COVID-19. Georgia’s baseball program found that out in an unfortunate way when head coach Scott Stricklin tested positive for the virus on the day of Georgia’s SEC opener.
That was almost two weeks ago, on March 19, when the team announced the diagnosis. Stricklin thought he might be able to make the trip last weekend against Texas A&M but had a fever that spiked, forcing him to miss another series. Stricklin plans to be in the dugout this weekend for Georgia’s series against South Carolina.
“That is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” said Stricklin. “To watch our team and not be able to be there and have any control at all, it was a challenge.”
Associate head coach Scott Daeley took over as acting manager while Stricklin was gone. The Bulldogs went 4-4 without Stricklin, losing two-of-three games to both Tennessee and Texas A&M. However, Georgia is now winners of two games in a row following a 2-0 shutout over Clemson on Tuesday. Stricklin had nothing but praise for the job Daley performed in his absence.
“He is very very calm and cool under pressure and the players know that and they really respect that about him,” said Stricklin on Daeley. “I’ve been with Scott for 17 years now and trust him with everything. He’s a really, really good baseball coach. When I wasn’t here, I did not worry about them not being coached well.”
Georgia will begin a three-game homestand against the Gamecocks on Friday night at 6 p.m. Luke Wagner will get the start for UGA, followed by Ryan Webb on Saturday and Jonathan Cannon on Sunday. Georgia will need all hands on deck to beat No. 14 South Carolina, a team that just swept the Florida Gators last weekend. Players seem to be optimistic though with Stricklin returning to action.
“It’s going to bring a little different energy in the dugout and be what we’re used to and we’re super excited to have him back and get things back to normal,” said infielder Josh McAllister. McAllister also said the team missed his leadership.
“I feel like with [Stricklin] being back, we’ll go even harder because we have our coach back,” said pitcher Jaden Woods.