FROSTBURG, Md. -
The 2006 Bobcat baseball team enters its 60th season with high expectations. After finishing last season with a 29-13 overall record, the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper preseason poll has FSU listed as a team to watch this spring. Frostburg State is looking to win its fourth Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference crown and make just its third-ever trip to the NCAA tournament.
Last season, the Bobcats posted a 17-1 league record. They ranked first in the league in runs (342), hits (448), homeruns (31), walks (154), stolen bases (84), triples (11), RBIs (292), on-base percentage (.420) and slugging percentage (.493). The team also ranked second in doubles (94) and batting average (.336).
Despite losing eight seniors, FSU returns a solid core of players from 2005, including last season's AMCC Co-Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and seven all-conference selections.
The pitching staff will again be the strength of the team led by seniors Billye Hollister (Waldorf, Md./Thomas Stone) and Colin Bednar (Salisbury, Md./Glen Burnie).
Hollister was chosen as the 2005 AMCC Co-Player of the Year as well as a First-Team All-Conference selection. He finished last spring with a 7-3 record and had a league-low 1.73 earned run average. He also led the conference in innings pitched (82.1) while finishing second in strikeouts (80). Hollister has been listed as a "Player to Watch" by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper this spring.
Bednar joins the starting rotation after being FSU's closer in 2005. He posted a 2-1 record with a 2.88 ERA in 10 appearances. He led the squad with two saves and was third with 25 strikeouts.
Sophomore Jordan Crystal (Lindenhurst, N.Y./Lindenhurst (Monmouth)), a hard-throwing lefthander, is a transfer from Division I Monmouth University and looks to be the third starting pitcher in the rotation. His versatility will also allow him to see time in the outfield and at the plate.
Freshmen Andy Chrobak (New Castle, Pa./Laurel), Jared Campbell (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock) and Ronnie Krankowski (Tabernack, N.J./Holy Cross) are among seven new additions to the pitching staff and they will help solidify the rest of the rotation.
Junior Mike Tiller (Dumfries, Va./Potomac) and sophomore Frank Sutton (Clarcksburg, W.Va./Robert Byrd) both missed last season and will help provide depth to the staff.
Sophomore John Micklus (La Plata, Md./McDonough) has been moved to closer after a solid freshman season in which he made seven appearances. He is a hard-throwing lefty with an above average changeup.
Seniors Matt Sillers (Columbia, Md./Pallotti) and Jimmy Hardy (Myersville, Md./Middletown) will add leadership and depth to the staff.
Sillers appeared in six games a season ago while holding opposing batters to a stingy 0.84 ERA and team-best .132 batting average. Hardy made seven appearances while striking out nine batters.
Freshmen Freddy Foshay (Chesapeake, Va./Hickory), Kenny Hemling (Rising Sun, Md./Harford Technical) and Kyle Timme (Pasadena, Md./Mt. St. Joseph's) are newcomers to the Bobcats and will pickup innings in middle relief.
"The pitching staff will again be our strength," said Head Coach Chris McKnight. "We will rely on our staff to keep us in games."
Frostburg State returns the entire starting infield from 2006 led by juniors Mike Gitzen (Sterling, Va./Potomac Falls) and Todd Holmes (New Bloomfield, Pa./West Perry), and sophomores Art Barone (Chestnut Ridge, N.Y./Spring Valley) and Allen Peake (Fredericksburg, Va./Stafford).
Gitzen is a Second-Team All-AMCC selection and will anchor the infield from his shortstop position. He started 41 games a year ago and led the Bobcats with 16 doubles and 46 runs while finishing third on the team with 48 hits.
Holmes, who was also a second-team pick last season, appeared in 40 games with 28 starts. He hit .357 with 45 hits while leading FSU with five homeruns. He was also third on the team in doubles (9) and RBIs (32).
Barone was an all-conference first team honoree in 2005 and will look to battle Holmes for time at third. He finished the season ranked 75th in the nation in batting average (.416). He started 30 games last year and was first in the league in on-base percentage (.544) and second in batting average.
Peake, who is known for his outstanding defensive play and power at the plate, will again start at first base. As a freshman he was selected to the all-conference second team after hitting .309 with 42 RBIs, 42 hits, 28 runs and three homeruns. He was the lone FSU player to start in all 42 games.
Sophomore Brett Mitchell (Fredericksburg, Va./Stafford) has earned the start at second base and is considered to have the best glove on the team. He played in 29 games making nine starts last season. He recorded 11 runs, six hits and four RBIs.
Senior Scott Miller (Trumansburg, N.Y./Trumansburg) and junior Rob Comerford (Herndon, Va./Oakton (Garrett College)) will battle for time at first and both should see time as a designated hitter. Miller made 13 appearances with three hits and three RBIs. Comerford is a transfer from nearby Garrett College where he was selected as a Maryland Junior College All-Star.
Freshmen Joe Clark (Crozet, Va./Western Albemarle) and Bryan Short (Ashburn, Va./Paul VI) should see significant time around the infield. Clark will backup Mitchell at second base and add speed to the bench while Short will be the backup at shortstop as well as a designated hitter.
Senior Ryan Stevens (Dryden, N.Y./Dryden) will be used as a utility player because of his versatility. He will see time in the infield and outfield and possibly on the mound. He played in 29 games a year ago while hitting .273 with nine hits and nine RBIs.
"We have a returning veteran infield with at least 28 games of experience," said McKnight. "It will make a big difference in our defensive strategy."
The Bobcat outfield returns three starters from last season's roster. Senior Kyle Mahan (Woodbridge, Va./Potomac), junior Chris Jones (Baltimore, Md./Towson) and sophomore Andrew Speights (Stafford, Va./Brooke Point) occupy the three starting spots.
Mahan made 30 starts last spring with 39 total appearances. He led Frostburg State with nine triples and was third with nine stolen bases. He hit .303 with 33 hits and 19 RBIs while scoring 23 runs.
Jones was a 2005 First-Team All-AMCC selection and is listed as a "Player to Watch" this spring by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. He was first in the league in stolen bases (23), fifth in runs (36) and 12th in batting average (.370). He led Bobcat outfielders with 55 putouts and a .980 fielding percentage.
Speights is the reigning AMCC Newcomer of the Year and is also listed as a "Player to Watch" by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. He finished second in the AMCC in RBIs (40), fifth in batting average (.390), hits (53) and total bases (74). He made 36 starts and was second on the FSU squad with 11 doubles and 136 at bats.
Stevens and freshman Pat Hendricks (New Milford, Conn./New Milford) will battle for playing time. Freshman Brad Reese will also battle for playing time in the outfield.
"With three returning starters, we are very strong on defense and we expect big offensive numbers as well," stated McKnight.
Junior Ryan Webb (Westminster, Md./South Carroll) enters the season as the starting catcher and has also been named a "Player to Watch" by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. He played in 27 games while making 21 starts. He led the Bobcats with a .615 slugging percentage while batting .369 with 24 hits. He also added 23 RBIs and 12 runs.
Sophomore Joe Daddura (Fallston, Md./Calvert Hall) has vastly improved his all-around game and will see considerable time. He appeared in 14 games behind the plate last season while hitting one homerun with three RBIs. Freshmen Andrew Sacks (Forest Hill, Md./John Carroll) and Chad Lang (Front Royal, Va./Warren County) will provide depth and compete for time.
"Ryan and Joe had an excellent fall and winter season and we expect breakout years from both of them," added McKnight."
The Frostburg State baseball program has added a new coach this season. Bill Shields joins the staff after working at Mass Financial Services in Boston for the past few years. He will assist the hitters and work with the infielders. Sheilds is familiar with Coach McKnight having played for him at Dowling from 1996-2000.
"We are happy to have Bill join the staff," said McKnight. "Since he is a former player at Dowling, he is familiar with my philosophy and will be a good fit."
FSU also welcomes the addition of Dr. Aimee Kimble to the staff. She is the Director of Mental Training for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for Sports Medicine. She aides the Bobcats in mental training and goal setting.
"It is good to have her onboard with our team," said McKnight. "She has been a big help and we see a difference in our players since she began working with us."
Again this season, Frostburg State scheduled some of the nation's toughest teams. The Bobcats will face No. 20 Mary Washington as well as Rutgers-Camden and St. Joseph's, who are listed as teams to watch, ranked just outside the top 25.
In AMCC action, Frostburg State will have to get through Pitt-Bradford, who has captured the league title in three of the last five years including the 2005 crown. FSU will also face Penn State Behrend who were the champions in 2003 and always tough La Roche.
"This is the earliest we have ever begun our schedule," said McKnight. "The early start is good for the team and it will prepare us for the tough AMCC schedule."
For further information on this release, contact:
Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303