The Official Home of Stephen F. Austin Athletics

    'Jacks 2008 Preview: Outfield
    Zach Gardner finished second on the team with a .342 average as a sophomore last season.
    Zach Gardner finished second on the team with a .342 average as a sophomore last season.

    Feb. 18, 2008

    NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Lumberjack outfield forecast for 2008 looks to be a combination of power and speed with senior Kevin Crabtree, and juniors Zach Gardner and Kai Kirby slated to kick off the year in the starting roles.

    "We have some really good speed with the addition of Kai Kirby this year," Watson said. "He gives us the ability to put him in right field and cover a lot of ground with Zach (Gardner) in center."

    Kirby, a 6-foot transfer from Seward County Community College, earned All-Jayhawk Conference honors last season after hitting .326 and going 12-13 on the base paths as a sophomore. He will team up with Gardner and Crabtree to form what may be the speediest outfield from foul pole to foul pole in the SLC.

    Gardner was an honorable mention all-conference selection in '07 and finished second on the team with a .342 batting average in 53 games. Look for Gardner to be slotted in the leadoff hole once again, even with showing a lot of power in the fall.

    Out in left field will be Kevin Crabtree, who knocked seven home runs in addition to his .303 batting average last year, and was one of six Lumberjacks to post at least 60 hits on the year.

    "Crabtree has power galore and can bunt for a hit too," Watson said. "He is even versatile enough to play any outfield position, if we need him to."

    Justin Long is another who saw action in 53 games, primarily as a designated hitter but also in the outfield. This year should be fairly similar with the left-hander seeing plenty of time at each spot in the lineup.

    "Long was a true freshman last year and we were always able to rely on him to make contact and move a runner, and he does not strike out much," Watson said.

    The 'Jacks open up the season Friday, Feb. 22, in Edinburg, Texas, at the UT-Pan American Tournament against Texas State. They will follow that up with games against UTPA and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi before taking part in the Baylor Tournament the following week.

    Check back with for more updates on Lumberjack baseball.

    Feb. 4 - Starting Pitching

    Feb. 7 - Relief Pitching

    Feb. 11 - Catchers

    Feb. 13 - Infielders

    Feb. 18 - Outfielders