St. Mary's City, Md. – It's hard to believe anyone contemplating the start of the spring sports season with Punxsutawney Phil predicting six more weeks of winter and winter storms hitting the area in recent weeks. But we're just days away from exactly that – three days to be exact.
The St. Mary's College of Maryland baseball team will be the first of the Seahawk spring sports team to take to the field as St. Mary's opens up the 2014 campaign on Monday, February 10th at Capital Athletic Conference newcomer, Christopher Newport University.
Head coach Lew Jenkins, now in his 20th season as the Seahawk skipper, and his 30-man roster are looking to turn around last season's 14-24 campaign. This year's team features 12 newcomers, five sophomores, eight juniors, and five seniors. Coach Jenkins expects that this mix of youth and experience will guide St. Mary's to its first winning season since 2011 as well as a longer run in the CAC tournament.
St. Mary's batting lineup should be solid this as the team's top-2 hitters from a year ago return for their junior campaigns – Brad Dioguardo (Owings Mills, Md./Franklin) and Jared Eaker (Mechanicsville, Md./Leonardtown). Dioguardo led the team last season with a .336 average and 13 stolen bases while Eaker was next at a .323 clip.
Seniors Alex Lenovitz (Baltimore, Md./Calvert Hall) and Eric Skrzyniarz (Bethesda, Md./Winston Churchill) and junior Paul Roemer (Westminster, Md./Westminster) will bolster the lineup as the trio hit above .250 and combined for 25 RBI as well as four extra-base hits. The bats of transfers Kenny Beyer (Montgomery College Germantown), junior Brandon Eady (Anne Arundel Community College), and sophomore Jared Karbowsky (Waynesburg University) will provide additional firepower at the plate.
Solid defensive play will be found in the infield as everyone from last season returns, except for two-time conference all-star shortstop Corey Napier '13. Lenovitz will make the move this year from first base to third while sophomore Michael O'Neill (Berlin, Md./Stephen Decatur) makes the transition from outfield to first. Eaker might also see time at first base for the Seahawks.
Junior Luke Green (Bowie, Md./DeMatha Catholic) will most likely take over the responsibilities of shortstop while first-year Zach Rowe (Annapolis, Md./Calvert Hall College) is expected to step into the role of second baseman. Junior Matt Holdefer (Bad Kreuznach, Germany) and Karbowsky will support the infielders at third and second, respectively.
Skrzyniarz and Roemer are back in the outfield for the Seahawks while Beyer and Eady should make an immediate impact with their speed. First-year Nicholas Raimondo (Davidsonville, Md./South River) could also see some time in the outfield.
At the catcher's position, Eaker will take over the starting role vacated by the graduation of Stefano Muscatelli '13. Sophomores Connor Goodie (Rising Sun, Md./Rising Sun) and Danny Stouffer (Kensington, Md./Albert Einstein) and first-year Graham Haliskoe (Middletown, N.J./Middletown) will serve as Eaker's backup. Goodie and Stouffer both saw time behind the plate last season and could compete to start the second half of doubleheaders.
The pitching staff took quite a hit with all but one of last year's starters not returning because of graduation and injury. Senior Sam Beatty (Columbia, Md./Hammond) is the only starter back from last season while senior Sam Coe (Bethesda, Md./Walter Johnson), who has been a closer for his first three years, will break into the starting rotation this season.
This year's 40-game schedule features three NCAA Tournament teams, three conference regular-season champions, and one nationally-ranked team. In addition, the Seahawks will face six opponents for the first-time ever in 2014. St. Mary's will deal with a new conference schedule format this year where doubleheaders will now be two nine-inning games.
Salisbury University, who enters the season ranked 12th in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Division III preseason poll, captured the CAC tournament championship title for the second consecutive season. The Seahawks will take on the defending CAC champions at the Hawk's Nest on March 12th before traveling to the Eastern Shore for another matchup on April 2nd.
New to the conference are Christopher Newport, Marymount (Va.) University, Penn State Harrisburg, and Southern Virginia University. CNU comes in as the 2013 USA South Athletic Conference regular-season champions while PSU Harrisburg captured the North Eastern Athletic Conference tournament championship in its last NEAC season.
The Marymount baseball program is in its first year of existence while Southern Virginia is making the transition from NAIA to Division III. St. Mary's will face the 2013 Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament champions, Randolph-Macon College, at the Hawk's Nest on February 27th and the 2013 NEAC regular-season champions, Gallaudet University, on the road on March 25th.
The Seahawks will make their Spring Break pilgrimage to Fort Pierce, Florida on March 16-20, playing eight games against Bethany (W.Va.) College, Centenary (N.J.) College, Geneva College, and Western Connecticut State University.
The CAC Championship Tournament begins on April 15th with first round action before moving to the site of the highest seed on April 18-19. The Seahawks will then wrap up the campaign with road games at The Catholic University of America, the 2013 Landmark Conference regular-season champion, on April 23rd and Washington College on April 29th.
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