CAA Baseball 2010 Preview

February 1, 2010
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Will 2010 Conference Race Be As Close As 2009?

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2009 Regular Season Champion:  George Mason

2009 Tournament Champ:  Georgia St. beat UNC Wilmington 12-10

Last year’s CAA regular season race was one of the closest in the history of the conference.  Just 1 1/2 games separated second place from eighth place in the final regular season standings.  In fact, five teams were vying for the final three spots in the 2009 CAA Tournament on the last day of the 2009 regular season.

2010 CAA Preview

Delaware

2009 Record:  (28-20, 11-10)

Mascot:  Blue Hens

Head Coach:  Jim Sherman

Location:  Newark, DE

Vitals:  .319 BA, 85 HR, .407 OBP, .962 Fld%…5.40 ERA, 6 CG, 5 SV, 341 K, 181 BB, .285 opp. BA

Into The Hall:  Head coach Jim Sherman was recently inducted into the Delaware Athletics Hall of Fame.  Sherman helped the Blue Hens to three NCAA Tournaments during his playing days from 1979-’82.  The outfielder set the program record with 46 career home runs.

Ryan Cuneo

Everyday Alonso:  Senior Carlos Alonso (.380, 37 RBIs, 20 doubles) reached base safely in each of the Blue Hen’s 48 games last year.  The third baseman is the first player to do so in Delaware program history.  Alonso also stole a team-high 12 bases.

Blue Hen Pop:  Another senior, Ryan Cuneo (.285, 17 HR, 56 RBIs), is back as well to provide the pop in the Delaware line-up.  He’ll have to help Delaware overcome the losses of Bill Merkler (.371, 17 HR) and Scott Shockley (10 HR).

On The MoundRich O’Donald (5-4, 4.32 ERA, 3 CG) and Brian Rorick (4-3, 4.85 ERA, 3 CG) give the Blue Hens two-thirds of their weekend rotationn back from last year.  They combined for all six of the pitching staff’s six complete games.  They must replace Corey Crispell (5-4, 3.88 ERA) who had a team-best 3 saves.

George Mason

2009 Record:  (42-14, 19-5)

Mascot:  Patriots

Head Coach:  Bill Brown

Location:  Fairfax, VA

Vitals:  .321 BA, 82 HR, .401 OBP, .970 Fld%…4.45 ERA, 1 CG, 15 SV, 379 K, 164 BB, .275 opp. BA

Banner Year:  Head coach Bill Brown was named the ABCA East Region’s Coach of the Year in 2009 after leading his team to a school records for wins, home wins, winning percentage and home runs as well as an NCAA Tournament bid.  A school record six Patriots were also taken in the MLB Draft.

Lone Patriot:  George Mason had five players named First Team All-CAA last year, but RHP Kevin Crum (8-4, 4.64 ERA) is the only one back in 2010.

Big Shoes To Fill:  The Patriots lose their top three hitters, Chris Henderson (.413, 14 HR, 1.189 OPS), Scott Krieger (.372, 20 HR, 80 RBIs) and Justin Bour (.339, 17 HR, 66 RBIs), from last year’s team.  They also lose their top two relievers Ben Reade (3-1, 3.03 ERA) and Shawn Griffith (4-0, 3.05 ERA), who combined to make 51 appearances, and starter Mike Modica (11-2, 4.34 ERA) who tossed the staff’s only CG.

Georgia State

2009 Record:  (39-22, 12-9)

Mascot:  Panthers

Head Coach:  Greg Frady

Location:  Atlanta, GA

Vitals:  .310 BA, 74 HR, .403 OBP, .961 Fld%…5.44 ERA, 5 CG, 19 SV, 474K, 261 BB, .283 opp. BA

Good Times:  Georgia State set a school record with 39 wins last season en-route to winning the program’s first CAA Tournament championship.  The Panthers were 0-2 in the Atlanta (Georgia Tech) NCAA Regional.

Panthers On The Prowl:  Senior first baseman Bradley Logan (.309, 10 HR, 49 RBIs)  and pitchers Ryan Moore (7-2, 4.41 ERA) and Justin Malone (1-0, 1.35 ERA, 7 SVs) are the team’s top returnees.  Malone held opponents to a .216 average, and he didn’t allow a home run in 26 2/3 IP.  Five other pitchers who combined for seven more saves are

Mark Micowski

back as well.

Tough Losses:  The team’s top two runs producers from a year ago, Marc Mimeault (.398, 15 HR, 58 RBIs) and Derek Simmons (.316, 13 HR, 53 RBIs),  are gone.

Top TransferMark Micowski comes to the Panthers after the University of Vermont eliminated its baseball program after last season.  Micowski was named to the 2008 America East All-Rookie Team and earned 2nd Team America East Conference honors last year after hitting .365 with 28 stolen bases.  He set a Vermont single season record with 80 hits last year.

Raising The Bar:  After opening last season by hosting four games vs. Cleveland State the Panthers will open 2010 with a 3-game series in Tallahassee, FL vs. Florida State.

Hofstra

2009 Record:  (11-32, 6-18)

Mascot:  Pride

Head Coach:  Patrick Anderson

Location:  Hempstead, NY

Vitals:  .294 BA, 20 HR, .383 OBP, .958 Fld%…9.78 ERA, 1 CG, 3 SV, 218 K, 181 BB, .375 opp. BA

Tight Pen:  Hostra used just 10 pitchers last season.  Nine of them made at least 14 appearances and pitched at least 14 2/3 innings.

Slight Returns:  The Pride loses three of its top four batters from last year.  Mark Stuckless (.392), Chris Mentrasti (.323) and Tom Legregni (.308) combined to steal 47 bases in 2009.  Matt Prokopowicz (.344, 3 HR, 30 RBIS, 4 SB) is the team’s top returning hitter.  Junior RHP Jeff Guthridge (4-2, 4.38 ERA) returns as well.  He was the only Hofstra pitcher with a winning record last year.

ACC Challenge:  Hofstra plays three games at Florida State Feb. 26-28 and then goes to Maryland for three games the following weekend.

James Madison

2009 Record:  (30-24, 12-11)

Mascot:  Dukes

Head Coach:  Spanky McFarland

Location:  Harrisonburg, VA

Vitals:  .330 BA, 75 HR, .410 OBP, .965 Fld%…6.84 ERA, 2 CG, 14 SV, 438 K, 233 BB, .300 opp. BA

Missed It By That Much:  The Dukes missed the CAA Tournament by percentage points last year, becoming the first

Trevor Knight

school in league history with a winning record to miss the tourney.

Knight Time:  JMU is led by CAA Preseason Player of the Year Trevor Knight.  The redshirt junior (he missed what would have been his freshman season in 2007 with injury) does a little of everything for the Dukes.  He hit .377 with 14 HR, 55 RBIs and a .641 slg% as a first baseman/DH.  Knight was also 3-2 on the mound with a 4.32 ERA in 41 2/3 IP.  He made 10 relief appearances and one start.

And Then SomeKnight is one of eight returning JMU everyday position players.  The others include Matt Towsend, who hit .390 with 17 HR, 17 doubles and 17 SB, and 59 RBIs,  Matt Browning (.376, 9 HR, 59 RBIs),  David Herbek (.370, 10 HR, 50 RBIs, 20 doubles), Alex Foltz (.351),and  Mike Fabiaschi (.328).   Each of those six batters stole at least 13 bases to help the team total 108 swipes along with 75 HR last year.

And Some Pitching:  Starter Turner Phelps (8-2, 5.33 ERA) leads the rotation, while Kevin Munson (3-3, 2.85 ERA, 9 SVs) and his 95 mph fastball are back to close things out. JMU returns nine pitchers who compiled 87% of the team’s innings pitched last year.

Cape KingsKnight, Phelps and Munson were teammates with the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod League last summer.  They teamed with the likes of East Carolina’s Kyle Roller to help Bourne win its first ever Cape championship.

Northeastern

2009 Record:  (28-25, 13-11)

Mascot:  Huskies

Head Coach:  Neil McPhee

Location:  Boston, MA

Vitals:  .288 BA, 50 HR, .352 OBP, .964 Fld&…4.60 ERA, 3 CG, 14 SV, 422 K, 200 BB, .286 opp. BA

Playing The Sox:   The Huskies are slated to face the Boston Red Sox on March 3  in Ft. Myers, FL.  It will be the seventh straight exhibition meeting with the MLB club.  The Red Sox haven’t allowed a Northeastern run since 2006, and have outscored the Huskies 73-2 since their first meeting in 2004.

Staying And Going:  Senior OF Frank Campagnone (.343, 19 RBIs) and soph. OF Matt Miller (.310, 21 RBIs) are the top returning hitters back from last year’s CAA Tournament team.  However, the Huskies lose their top run producers Mike Tamsin (.347, 45 RBIs), James Donaldson (.332, 12 HR, 43 RBIs) and Frank Pesanello (.281, 13 HR, 40 RBIs).

Strong Arms:  A pair of lefties are back from the Husky bullpen.  Senior Dan Zehr (2-3. 3.30 ERA) and soph. Andrew Leenhouts (1-1, 2.37 ERA) combined for 51 appearances and 10 saves last year.

His Own Glavine:  Northeastern assistant coach Mike Glavine is entering his fourth season on the Husky coaching staff this year.  The younger brother of Tom Glavine, Mike was inducted into the Northeastern Hall of Fame in 2006.  He had a 10-year professional career after hitting 28 home runs with 110 RBIs at Northeastern, which rank third and ninth, respectively, in the school record books.

Old Dominion

2009 Record:  (22-27, 13-11)

Mascot:  Monarchs

Head Coach:  Jerry Meyers

Location:  Norfolk, VA

Vitals:  .292 BA, 35 HR, .365 OBP, 75 SB, .972 Fld%…5.51 ERA, 7 CG, 5 SV, 275 K, 186 BB, .300 opp. BA

Jake McAloose

McAloose Is Loose:  Senior Jake McAloose is ODU’s only preseason All-CAA honoree.  The third baseman hit a team-best .413 with 6 home runs and 43 RBIs last year.  He also had an OPS of 1.111, while scoring a team-high 48 runs.  He’s joined in the line-up by Donnie Corsner (.323, 5 HR, 21 RBIs) and Josh Wright (.263, 11 HR, 49 RBIs).  Wright is a redshirt sophomore who made the CAA All-Rookie Team last year.

Two-Way Harris:  Sophomore RHP/OF Brett Harris (6-4, 4.95 ERA) led the Monarchs in wins last year, while racking-up five of the staff’s seven complete games.  Harris also hit .303 with 31 RBIs.

Action In The Pen:  Senior Chris Boggs (5-2, 3.20 ERA) had the staff’s best ERA and earned the second most wins in 2009.  He heads a group of three returners who each saved a game last year.  Boggs made six starts with 10 relief outings.

Towson

2009 Record:  (28-25, 12-12)

Mascot:  Tigers

Head Coach:  Mike Gottlieb

Location:  Towson, MD

Vitals:  .321 BA, 97 HR, .966 Fld%…7.67 ERA, 1 CG, 7 SV, 384 K, 250 BB

No Cream Puffs:  The Tigers play the most challenging schedule in school history this year, with six games against 2009 College World Series teams on the schedule.  Towson plays a four-game series at Arizona State Feb. 26-28 and finishes the month of March with two games at Virginia.

Key Returns:  Towson returns four of its top six batters from a team that set a school record with a .321 batting average last year.  Kevin Collins (.335, 14 HR, 56 RBIs, 11 SB) and Chris Wyshock (.310, 14 HR, 51 RBIs) lead the list of returnees.

Sizable Losses:  Gone are Gary Helmick (.430, 17 HR, 51 RBIs), Aaron Gabrielson (.307, 10 HR, 40 RBIs) and Jason Stifler (.266, 12 HR, 44 RBIs).

Nat’s Back:  Shortstop Nick Natoli returns after missing last season with a knee injury.  The junior was named CAA Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.  He also hit .349 that year, while earning 2nd team All-CAA honors.

On The Mound:  Towson’s top two starters, Drew Permison (3-2, 6.24 ERA) and Tyler Austin (3-1, 7.32 ERA), return.  Permison tossed the team’s only complete game last year.  They lose closer Josh Squatrito (5-2, 5.59 ERA, 7 SVs).

UNC Wilmington

2009 Record:  (31-23, 10-8)

Mascot:  Seahawks

Head Coach:  Mark Scalf

Location:  Wilmington, NC

Vitals:  .292 BA, 39 HR, .385 OBP, .966 Fld%…5.36 ERA, 0 CG, 15 SV, 379 K, 230 BB, .276 opp. BA

Cody Stanley

Returning In Droves:  The Seahawks return all eight starting position players from a year ago.  While they hit just 39 home runs in 2009 the players they return combined to hit 37 of those long balls.  Catcher Cody Stanley (.332, 12 HR, 56 RBIs, 1.033 OPS) and DH Robbie Monday (.277, 12 HR, 38 RBIs)  bring back the bulk of Wilmington’s power, and while Grayson Evans (.314) hit just 3 HR, he had almost as many doubles (21) as he had strikeouts (25).

Plus Pitching:  Several significant pitchers from last year’s team are back as well.  Daniel Cropper (5-2, 5.46 ERA) and Seth Frankoff (3-5, 5.76 ERA) were the team’s innings pitched leaders with 59 1/3 and 65 2/3, respectively.  Top relievers Bryan Booth (2-1, 3.31 ERA),  Tyler McSwain (2-1, 3.80 ERA) and and Steven Davis (5-2, 5.01 ERA) are back to carry the load in the bullpen.  They combined for 93 appearances and 13 of the team’s 15 saves.

Interesting Match-Up:  UNC Wilmington hosts a 3-game series with Rhode Island March 19-21.  The Rams just missed the NCAA Tournament last year.

VCU

2009 Record:  (20-26, 8-16)

Mascot:  Rams

Head Coach:  Paul Keyes

Location:  Richmond, VA

Vitals:  .299 BA, 23 HR, .380 OBP, .958 Fld%…6.40 ERA, 4 CG, 7 SV, 268 K, 164 BB, .302 opp. BA

Running Rams:  While VCU’s 23 home runs ranked second to last in the 11 team CAA last year, their 77 stolen bases were fourth best in the conference.  Senior outfielders Andrew Dimino (.323, 40 runs, .428 OBP), who led the CAA with 25 swipes, and Matt Leskiw (.343, 13 SB, .440 OBP) both return this year.

Solid NucleusDimino and Leskiw are among five of six VCU regulars who hit .301 or better in 2009, including  Joe Van Meter who led the team in batting average (.347) and doubles (13).  The Rams lose team home run leader Justin Wright (.327, 8 HR, 42 RBIs, .570 slg%).

William & Mary

2009 Record:  (24-25, 9-15)

Mascot:  Tribe

Head Coach:  Frank Leoni

Location:  Williamsburg, VA

Vitals:  .292 BA, 37 HR, .395 OBP, .950 Fld%…5.79 ERA, 1 CG, 6 SV, 347 K, 251 BB, .292 opp. BA

CWS Challenge:  William & Mary plays a combined five games vs. three 2009 College World Series teams.  They play three games at defending national champion LSU Feb. 26-28, one game at North Carolina on March 9 followed by a game at Virginia on March 16.

Gaping Hole:  The team’s top three hitters from a season ago, Tyler Stampone (.382, 5 HR, 40 RBIs), Rob Nickle (.351, 14 HR, 60 RBIs) and Jeff Jones (.347, 4 HR, 31 RBIs), are all gone.  the trio accounted for 43% of William & Mary’s RBIs and 62% of the team home run total last year.  Jones also stole a team-high 23 bases.  No other player had double digit swipes.

Returning Pitching:  Sophomore RHP Matt Davenport (6-2, 4.71 ERA) didn’t just lead the pitching staff in wins last year, he was also the only Tribe pitcher to sport a winning record.  Junior Logan Billbrough (3-3, 4.20 ERA, 3 SV)  returns as well.  His 24 appearances in 2009 were a team-high.

2010 CAA Predictions

CAA Champion: James Madison

Player of the Year: Trevor Knight – James Madison

Pitcher of the Year: Ryan Moore – Georgia State

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