NEW MARKET — When Zac Cole was in a Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association meeting this past spring, Gordon State College baseball coach Travis McClanahan gave a speech about why Chase Sudduth should be the Player of the Year. He was so convincing that Cole decided he needed to have him on his New Market Rebel squad this summer.
Cole, the New Market Rebel head coach who also coaches at Andrew College, was able to convince Sudduth to come with him to New Market for the summer and it’s paid off for both of them.
“Chase’s coach made a really awesome speech about Chase and about the kind of person he was,” Cole said of the meeting. “That kind of really piqued my interest of this is the kind of guy that we want on our team.”
Sudduth said he’s enjoyed his time in the area. He said he’s from just outside of Atlanta, in Powder Springs, Georgia, so it’s a little different being in the country.
“I enjoy driving down the road and I look to the side and see like pastures and mountains,” Sudduth said. “That’s something that I never really had that feel for. It’s definitely been a good experience.”
On the baseball diamond Sudduth has been a big spark for the Rebels. He is hitting .348 (39-for-112) with two homers, 18 RBIs, 14 runs scored, seven doubles and two triples.
Sudduth has batted in the top two spots in the order most of the season.
He said he enjoys being toward the top of the lineup.
“I was batting lead off for a few weeks and then (Nick) Barber, our shortstop’s, been pretty hot lately,” Sudduth said. “So he’s taken over the leadoff role. And I’ve been after him just trying to, if he’s on base, just try to move him over. And just set it up for our three, four, five hitters who are the big guys that knock in all the runs.”
Cole said that even when the team was struggling in the first couple games of the season Sudduth was the one player who was having solid games for the Rebels at the plate.
Sudduth said that he’s always been a player who could hit for average, but when he went to Gordon State he wanted to add more to his game and it worked out well.
He had seven homers this past season at Gordon State with 58 RBIs, 50 runs scored and hit .386.
“I know I don’t have the most pop now, but it’s definitely something that I’ve worked on,” Sudduth said. “I definitely worked on getting some lift on the ball, hitting the gaps in the outfield. I would say I made some progress, but hopefully I can keep making some more.”
Not only is Sudduth versatile at the plate but on the field as well.
He has played at first base, second base and third base, where he’s expected to play this year at North Georgia.
“We originally had the idea that we were going to play him at third, but then we kind of had some struggles defensively early in the year,” Cole said. “So we ended up sliding him over to second and he’s done an outstanding job at second base. He really has. Then the other day we had to move him over to third for a game, and he had a couple of huge plays. He hadn’t been playing over there, and all of the sudden he comes in and boom, boom, boom, he makes a couple of good plays.”
Cole said it’s a big luxury for the team to be able to put Sudduth anywhere they need him and know he’ll be successful.
Sudduth said he’s very excited to play at North Georgia next year. North Georgia made the Division II World Series this past season for the first time in school history.
The Rebels have two other players on their roster from North Georgia in Conner Corbitt and Kyle Luigs and Sudduth said he’s talked to them about being at North Georgia. He said it’s good to get to know a few of his future teammates.
“It’s nice to know that when I go to school I’ll know a few people, instead of being like foreign there,” Sudduth said.
Sudduth also played in the VBL All-Star game last weekend. He went 1-for-2 with a triple for the North squad.
“That was one of the best experiences of my life,” Sudduth said. “Coming here to New Market I didn’t even have expectations of the all-star game. I was trying to be a player that got a lot of at-bats, and just gain some respect around the league. And to be able to go out there and play with some of those guys who I play against is great. Those guys are really good. And the fact that I was included in all of them was just amazing. It was something that I’ll definitely remember.”
The Rebels are 18-13 and in second place in the North Division.
Sudduth said he feels good about what the team can do the rest of the season.
“I know baseball’s a crazy game where any team can win any day, but I think there’s no team in the league that we can’t beat,” Sudduth said. “And I think we’ve proven that, playing against some of the better teams and taking care of business. And hopefully we just need to keep doing that.”