ATHENS----Georgia opens the 2018 baseball season Friday at Foley Field against Georgia Southern with first pitch slated for 5 p.m. Under the direction of Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin, Georgia returns all nine starting position players from a year ago and 14 pitchers who saw action including two members of its starting rotation. Last year, Georgia started five freshmen on Opening Day (Tucker Bradley-LF, Cam Shepherd-SS, Aaron Schunk-3B, Will Proctor-2B, and Tucker Maxwell-CF) the most since 2009 when five started. Shepherd earned Freshman All-SEC honors after starting all 57 games and batting .307-5-28 plus posted a .953 fielding percentage. In 2017, Georgia went 25-32 overall and 11-19 in the SEC. The Bulldogs posted a strong finish, winning their last three SEC series, all over ranked teams including two on the road. Georgia’s run to qualify for the SEC Tournament in this span featured series wins at No. 4 Kentucky, versus No. 6 Miss. State in Athens and at No. 30 South Carolina, going 6-3 in that stretch. The 2001 season marked the last time Georgia had posted three consecutive SEC series wins over ranked teams, that year they came over #23 Florida (2-1), #16 USC (2-1) and at #14 Tennessee (3-0). In a preseason vote of the SEC coaches, the 2018 Bulldogs are picked to finish 5th in the SEC Eastern Division behind projected league champion and defending NCAA champion Florida, followed by UK, VU and USC. Arkansas is picked to win the West. This is the fifth season at UGA for Coach Stricklin and 14th overall as a head coach. Stricklin will turn 46 Saturday. Scott Daeley is in his fifth year as the hitting coach/recruiting coordinator. Sean Kenny is Georgia’s new pitching coach while Pete Hughes is the new volunteer coach. *UGA Rotation: Georgia’s season-opening rotation will feature junior LHP Kevin Smith (5-5, 4.87 ERA), freshman RHP Emerson Hancock and senior RHP Chase Adkins (6-7, 3.95 ERA). In his last three SEC starts in 2017, all against ranked opponents, Smith went 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA, beating No. 4 Kentucky in Lexington, No. 6 Miss. State in Athens, and No. 30 USC in Columbia. In his career, Smith is 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two starts versus the Eagles. Adkins did not factor in the decision in his start against the Eagles last year (6IP, 3H, 0R). *The Captains: Junior OF/C Michael Curry (.298-10-46) has been named to the 2018 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason All-SEC First Team as the DH. He was a First Team All-SEC selection in 2017 when he started all 57 games at either DH or catcher. Also, he made the 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-District team as a Dean’s List student majoring in Computer Science. Curry and senior OF Keegan McGovern (.291-2-21) are the team captains for 2018. McGovern is an Academic All-SEC selection as a Biology major who has started 154 games in his Bulldog career. *Play Ball! Baseball is the oldest varsity sport on the UGA campus, dating back to 1886. The Bulldogs have an all-time record of 2,221-1,738-24 in this their 131st season. *A Look at GS: The Eagles, coached by Rodney Hennon, are picked to finish third in the Sun Belt Conference Eastern Division behind South Alabama and Coastal Carolina. The Eagles went 38-21 (18-12 SBC) last year and return all three weekend starters including RHP Seth Shulman (8-0, 3.34 ERA) who earned Freshman All-America honors. The other hurlers are junior RHPs: Brian Eichhorn (3-5, 4.33 ERA) and Chase Cohen (4-3, 4.81 ERA). They have four returning starters in the field including top hitter sophomore Steve Curry (.312-0-21) and power threat redshirt junior Tyler Martin (.291-9-43). UGA Pitching Matchups For The GS Series (2017 Stats) Friday at 5 p.m.: UGA junior LHP Kevin Smith (5-5, 4.87) vs. Brian Eichhorn (3-5, 4.33), RHP, Jr. Saturday at 1 p.m.: UGA freshman RHP Emerson Hancock. vs. Seth Shuman (8-0, 3.34), RHP, So. Sunday at 1 p.m.: UGA senior RHP Chase Adkins (6-7, 3.95) vs. TBA Television/Radio For GS Series TV: Friday-Sunday on SECN+ (Matt Stewart & Jason Jacobs) TV Links via WatchESPN App. Fri. http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3282053/georgia-southern-vs-georgia-baseball Sat. http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3282050/georgia-southern-vs-georgia-baseball Sun: http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3282036/georgia-southern-vs-georgia-baseball Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG College (Jeff Dantzler & David Johnston) Stations: 960 AM-WRFC and selected affiliates (check your local listings), also via the Georgia Bulldogs app and TuneIn app. Additional Coverage on Twitter: @BaseballUGA Tickets/Promotions/Clear Bag Policy Foley Field – Gates/Ticket Booth open @ 3:00p.m. on Friday; @ 11 a.m. on Sat./Sun. Reserved Seat Tickets: $8 General Admission Tickets: $5 -Order online or by calling 1-877-542-1231 UGA Student Tickets: Free Admission with valid UGA Student ID Card -UGA Student Gate is located off Rutherford Street Friday Promotion: First 750 Fans Receive a Georgia Beanie; First 1,000 Fans Receive a 2018 UGA Baseball Schedule MagnetSunday Promotions: Pregame: Anthem Buddies: Kids can stand on the field with the players during the national anthemSunday Postgame: Kids Run The Bases, Play Catch In The Outfield, Autographs With UGA Baseball Team Foley Field To Follow SEC’s Clear Bag Policy In order to enhance safety and expedite fan entry at Georgia athletic events, UGA will follow the SEC’s Clear Bag Policy at Foley Field and all other athletic facilities. Only one clear bag no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches (gallon size) per person is permitted. Fans are also allowed a small clutch purse not exceeding 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches. Also, Seat cushions/backs should be no bigger than 16 inches and have no arms or pockets.