FROSTBURG, MD —
Veteran leadership and a strong recruiting class will be among the many keys to success for the Frostburg State baseball team in 2003.
Fourth-year head coach Chris McKnight and his staff return eight seniors, five of whom are slated to start when the Bobcats open their season Friday against Apprentice at 9:00 am in the Chowan (N.C.) Invitational.
Last year, FSU posted a 20-14 overall record, advanced to the AMCC Tournament and tied for 19th in Division III in both batting average (.342) and runs per game (8.8) last year.
The Bobcats will again boast a potent offensive attack, and the arrival of several impressive pitchers should help fuel a run to the AMCC title.
"We are going to rely on our seniors for experience and leadership both on and off the field this year," said McKnight. "We will continue to get better with our hitting, and, with the new faces on the pitching staff, I’m confident we’ll be in the mix again for the AMCC championship and a postseason berth."
Offensively, the Bobcats return an explosive line-up. Junior Ryan Hamerski (Olney, Md./Sherwood) and sophomore Scott Feller (Coral Springs, Fla./American Heritage) will rotate between the first base and designated hitter spots.
Hamerski hit .385 with three home runs and 22 RBI last season, while Feller led FSU with a .426 batting average in 2001.
Junior Sean Davis (Olney, Md./Sherwood) will start the season at second base and will team up with senior shortstop Dave Sanchez (Buckeystown, Md./Urbana) to make the Bobcats very strong defensively up the middle of the diamond.
Davis, one of just three players to start all 34 games last season, hit .328 with six doubles, two triples and 15 RBI, and he scored a team-high 37 runs to go along with nine stolen bases. Sanchez hit .356 and showed solid power with seven doubles and two home runs.
Junior Taylor Dixon (Fairfax, Va./Robinson), a transfer from Division II Longwood, gets the nod at third, while senior Jake Mannon (Southampton, N.J./Lenape) and sophomore Chris Baugher (Frederick, Md./Brunswick) will battle for catching time.
Mannon hit .343 with nine doubles, two triple and a home run and drove in 26 runs, while Baugher hit .346 with eight RBI in 13 games.
FSU will be bolstered by a veteran outfield, as all three starters from a year ago return. Seniors Tim Wilkins (Baltimore, Md./Mervo), Mark Teson (Latham, N.Y./Shaker) and Bobby Farmer (Rockville, Md./Wheaton), who hit a combined .320 with eight homeruns, 22 stolen bases and 72 runs batted in, will patrol the outfield were they made 143 putouts and committed only seven errors.
Wilkins boasts one of the top bats in the AMCC and is coming off a season in which he hit .398 with eight doubles, two triples and a team-high six home runs. He led the team with a .704 slugging percentage, ranked second with 36 RBI and finished third with eight stolen bases.
"Tim has the potential to hit the ball out of the park every at-bat," said McKnight. "He is one of the strongest players I have ever coached."
Teson hit .305, scored 36 runs, tied for the team lead with 30 walks and topped the squad with 11 steals, while Farmer posted a .282 batting average to go along with 20 runs, 16 RBI and three steals.
"Mark and Bobby get great jumps on balls and are two guys who can really cause trouble on the base paths with their speed and game sense."
The pitching staff returns three starters – juniors Dan Sidorowicz (Leonardtown, Md./St. Mary's Ryken) and Rob DeSanto (Rockville, Md./Wheaton) and senior Juan Aznar (Marriotsville, Md./Liberty) – as well as sophomore lefty Billye Hollister (Waldorf, Md./Thomas Stone), who will move into a starting role after serving as the team’s closer in 2002.
Sidorowicz went 4-3 with a 4.54 earned run average and led the Bobcats with two complete games, while DeSanto went 2-1 while fighting through injuries.
Aznar was 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA and held opponents to a .220 batting average, and Hollister posted a 4-1 mark with three saves out of the bullpen.
Transfers Brent Lutz (Toms Brook, Va./Central (Potomac State JC)) and Daryl Keys (Salem, N.Y./Salem Central (Adornick JC)) as well as freshmen David Keenan (Ridgley, Md./North Caroline), Mike Tiller (Dumfries, Va./Potomac) and Jimmy Hardy (Myersville, Md./Middletown) will also battle for spots in the rotation.
The bullpen remains strong with senior John Koppel (Frostburg, Md./Beall) and junior Chris McGarvey (Fallentimber, Pa./Glendale) leading the way at the back end. Sophomores Kevin Franc (Mechanicsville, Md./Leonardtown) and Andrew Byer (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) will likely serve as set-up men, while freshmen Matt Sillers (Columbia, Md./Pallotti), Marc Crawford (Middletown, Md./Middletown) and Kyle Mahan (Woodbridge, Va./Potomac) will challenge for action.
Koppel was 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in limited action, while McGarvey posted a solid 3.13 ERA in 11 contests. Weston, Franc and Byer gained valuable experience in their first seasons at the collegiate level and should continue to develop.
"We have a lot of depth this season and a nice mix of lefties and righties in all roles," said McKnight of the pitching staff. "Coach [Jason] Trufant has seen a lot of progress from the fall, and he and the players have set high individual and team goals for the season."
The AMCC title chase could be wide open, with key losses suffered by both two-time defending tournament champion Pitt-Bradford and runner-up Penn State Behrend.
"Our team goal is to win the AMCC and advance to postseason play. The players and coaches expect nothing less," said McKnight. "I feel the experience and depth of the pitching staff, coupled with the senior leadership on the club, should make us a strong challenger for the conference crown again."
For further information on this release, contact:
Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303