Baseball gears up for another long season in CAA
Published: Monday, February 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013 20:02
Last year, the Delaware baseball team went 31-27 (17-13 CAA) and finished as runner-up to UNC Wilmington in the CAA Tournament.
Head coach Jim Sherman said many of last year’s lynchpins are returning to the team.
“Our strength is our returning core of upperclassmen,” Sherman said. “We’ll have a good junior, senior team, so that’s probably our strength.”
The key returning pitchers are junior right-hander Chad Kuhl, who had a 4.42 ERA, as well as senior right-handed reliever Stephen Richter, who in 26 innings had a 4.39 ERA.
Senior infielder D.J. Long, junior infielder Jimmy Yezzo and redshirt senior outfielder Nick Ferdinand are three pertinent hitters in the Hens lineup.
Long said the team has great chemistry due to not losing any fielders.
“I feel like we have great offense and defense and team chemistry-wise, like we didn’t lose one position player from last season’s team that we lost the championship with at the last minute,” Long said. “So we have all the position players back, we are all used to each other, we know what we are going to get out of each one of us.”
Long and Ferdinand were also named captains before the season. According to Long, he will uphold Delaware’s blend of good players on the field and in the classroom by making sure everyone stays on top of their playing and studies.
The Hens lost three pitchers at the end of last season — right-handers Corey Crispell and Eric Young, and left-hander Devon Pearson — as well as the designated hitter, outfielder Alex Mottle. The team has replaced the three pitchers with two junior right-handed transfers from junior colleges, Adam Davis, of Lackawanna Junior College, and Connor Hibbs, of Cantonsville Community College. Another junior transfer, infielder Jake Clark, from Cypress College, will replace Mottle.
The schedule opens next weekend with the Wright State Tournament in Cary, N.C. The Hens play Wichita State University from Feb. 22 to 24, while the CAA season opens on the road at Towson from March 8 to 10. Another key matchup is the road trip to UNC Wilmington from April 12 to 14.
Long said the Wright State Tournament might give Delaware the start to the season it is looking for by playing teams from the area that the Hens have the ability to beat.
“I think we just need to get out to a better start than we usually do,” he said. “We always start off slow, playing really good teams right off the bat, so we’re losing at the beginning, but this year I feel we have a great opportunity at the tournament in Cary.”
Though the team is almost the same as last season, Sherman said the Hens want to earn a high seed in the conference playoffs. This will give the team additional rest that the Hens are not accustomed to receiving.
The last time Delaware was a one or two seed in the CAA Tournament was back in 2007 when the Hens were the runner-up in championship after losing 10-4 in 13 innings against VCU. However, Delaware’s skipper has faith, he said.
“We should definitely be a one or two seed in the tournament so we get a bye in the first round,” Sherman said. “We were three seed last year, so we had to play right away.”