In every sport there is a drive for success, otherwise why would anyone play to be anything less than successful? For Emerson Hancock, a pitcher for the University of Georgia, success has been a big part of his second year as a Division 1 baseball player.Why It’s Newsworthy: Hancock has been a dominant factor in Georgia baseball’s success this season and is only a sophomore. Knowing the potential, Georgia has a chance to make it far into the tournament this year.
Hancock was born and raised in Cairo, Georgia, where he grew up playing baseball and finding a passion for the game. Attending Cairo High School, Hancock played all four years on Varsity where he grew into the talented pitcher he is today.
During his senior year at Cairo, Hancock posted a 0.75 ERA and was named the 2017 Region 1-AAAA Pitcher of the Year and has carried that talent into the collegiate level this season.
While deciding which college to play baseball for, Hancock already had the school of his dreams in mind.
“I always knew that Georgia was the place I wanted to play at,” said Hancock. “I have always been a die-hard Georgia fan and my family has strong ties to Georgia with many of them being alumni.”
Going along with Hancock choosing Georgia, Head Coach Scott Stricklin was just as interested to have him play on the team.
“He’s a very talented kid, he’s very humble and a hard worker, so we knew coming in the talent was not a question, but we have been really pleased with how he’s handled himself, how he’s handled the transition from high school to college, and especially playing at the Division 1 level” said Stricklin.
Besides the passion for Georgia being an influence to play baseball here, Hancock’s older brother, Emery, currently lives in the Athens area and is a graduate from Georgia. This has allowed them to bond even closer being able to hang out and talk about the games.
“[Emerson] playing baseball has brought us closer together. After he pitches he will call me and we will talk about his game for at least an hour” said Hancock’s brother, who was also a baseball player for Cairo High School.
The town of Cairo, Georgia, totals around 9,806 people according to population.us. Leaving a population of that size to join a town with 119,648 living in it was a big adjustment for Hancock.
However, the support system that the team provides helps with that issue.
Aside from the close bond with his older brother, Hancock also has a supportive team to rely on for when times get tough. “We constantly pick each other up and cheer for each other and that’s been a huge thing for me.”
In order to be a successful pitcher at the collegiate level, staying focused and keeping a routine has been one of the key reasons to Hancock’s success.
“I think my routine and preparation has helped me stay focused,” said Hancock. “Whether that’s my daily throwing, workout program or watching film, having a routine can really help you stay focused week to week.”
For Hancock’s first career start against Georgia Southern, he struck out five batters and pitched six shutout innings. “Ever since my first start in Foley, I’ve known that this is what I love to do.”
During his freshman year at UGA, Hancock only allowed a 5.10 ERA (earned run average) and carried his team to six wins with four losses. Hancock pitched a total of 77.2 innings his freshman year but would probably have pitched more if he had not injured his left ankle earlier that season.
Healing after an injury is always hard on an athlete. Hancock did not only come back strong, he dominated in his last two games last season.
Returning after being out with an ankle injury, Hancock managed to secure two victories against Vanderbilt and Kentucky by striking out eight batters in both games. Ending his freshman year with 75 strikeouts, his sophomore season was bound for success.
This season, Hancock has pitched 69 innings and has posted 77 strikeouts. Last season, he pitched a total of 77 innings and finished the season with only 75. Already beating his previous season in strikeouts, he has carried UGA to seven wins with two losses.
One of his best showings came against a ranked South Carolina at the time where he struck out 12 batters with only two walks. In that same game, only one run was allowed giving him a 1.29 ERA.
His last game pitched was against Missouri where he struck out 11 batters with no walks.
He currently leads the SEC in ERA at 1.04 helping the Bulldogs share a team ERA of 2.71. So far this year’s team is on pace to beating a school record ERA which was held by the 1958 team with a 2.97 ERA.
Knowing the potential of this young man, 10 games left in the season are up for the taking and will give the Bulldogs a good opportunity to earn a high seed in the 2019 College World Series.
Coming to Georgia knowing his dream was finally here, Hancock is ready to make the team’s dream come true by making a run in the tournament this year in Omaha, Nebraska.
Hancock mentioned the team’s outlook for the rest of the season and the main point he made was to take it one game at a time and to stay focused on that.
“Everyone on this team wants to get Georgia baseball back to where it was,” said Hancock. “We all want to go to Omaha and to do something special for this community and incredible fan base”.
Knowing the potential of this year’s baseball team, UGA has that opportunity that Hancock talked about.
The last time Georgia was in the national championship was in 2008 where the Bulldogs lost to Fresno State 6-1. That same year, a Georgia pitcher named Joshua Fields was named the SEC Pitcher of the Year according to Georgia baseball records.
With similar pitching weapons on this year’s team, solid pitching has clearly led to a run in the tournament before. Georgia can look forward to what Hancock can do the remainder of his sophomore season.
The last and only time Georgia baseball won a national championship was 1990 where they beat Oklahoma State 2-1. After seeing the Chicago Cubs end their 107-year championship drought, the Bulldogs can have confidence in ending their 29-year championship drought.
With 10 games left in the regular season, Hancock has plenty of opportunities to keep building on his successful sophomore year and contribute to Georgia’s winning season. Georgia is 34-12 overall and 13-8 in the conference.
All it took was a dream to make it to where Hancock wanted to be, it just took hard work and support from his family. His older brother Emery has all the confidence in the world in Emerson.
“The reason I have so much confidence in him is because I know how much work he has put into it, he is the hardest worker I have ever met,” said Emery.
Hunter Konuszewski is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.