The Fredonia State baseball team heads into the 2013 campaign with a SUNYAC title on its mind. The Devils have no lack of experience with eight seniors - three outfielders, two infielders, two pitchers and a catcher - all of whom are expected to see a lot of innings.
Head Coach Matt Palisin enters his 11th season at the helm with lofty goals.
"We are returning quite a few players and are deep in all positions, including the pitching staff. Team expectations are a SUNYAC championship," he said.
Senior captain Dillon Lowe was First Team All-SUNYAC and anchored the middle of the Devils' order in 2012, batting .358. Lowe was second on the Devils in stolen bases (13), at bats (109) and hits (39) and led the team with 48 total bases and 19 RBI. In the conference, Lowe posted a .344 average while starting all 18 games.
Fellow senior captain Ian Gallagher will also be a large factor for the Blue Devils in the field as well as in the middle of the lineup. Gallagher has the ability to play multiple positions and will see starts in the infield and outfield. He batted .291 in 20 games last season.
Fifth-year senior Jake Nowak is another versatile player and will be called upon to play every infield position, catch and pitch.
Brian Sheehan, another senior captain, will see the majority of the innings behind the plate for the Blue Devils as well as hit in the middle of the order. Sheehan posted a .337 average last year. Kyle Koslowski will be his back up. He also made several starts at first base a season ago.
The middle infield will feature junior Conner Lorenzo at second base and sophomore Erik Krohl at short stop. Lorenzo is a polished player who is very fundamentally strong. Krohl is a solid defensive player and will hit near the bottom of the order.
Andrew Lawrence will round out the infield and play first base for the Devils. Lawrence brings a big bat and a solid glove to the table. Redshirt sophomore Ryan Fitzgerald and Koslowski will also see some time at first.
The outfield will feature Gallagher, Bobby Frantz, Kenny Johnston, Dan Fetes, John Bennett and Ryan Carmody.
Fetes, a senior captain, will be the opening-day designated hitter this year as well as seeing time in the outfield. Fetes hit a robust .339 last season and led the Devils in doubles (8), runs batted in (19) and stolen bases (16).
Bennett is another senior who will find innings in the outfield and will contribute in any role given.
Frantz enters his first year as a Blue Devil. He previously played for Monroe Community College where he was the leadoff hitter for two seasons. Johnston played 16 games as a freshman last season and heads into this season as the starting right fielder. Carmody gets a second chance at a freshman season he was injured during the team's spring trip last year - and will fill in defensively and on the bases when he doesn't start.
"Offensively we return pretty much everyone with the exception of our lead-off hitter," said Palisin. "We have added Bobby to fill that role. He fills our biggest need and everyone else is a year better."
Sean Larson, Zachary Hugg and Thomas Morris will front the rotation this year. Each player saw a lot of innings last season.
Larson was the No. 1 starter and led the team with 36 strikeouts and a 2.96 ERA. He led the SUNYAC with 43 2/3 innings pitched in the conference. Hugg, a senior, is the veteran member of the staff. Morris averaged a strikeout an inning as a freshman a season ago.
In addition the Blue Devils feature a deep bullpen with Angelo Sciandra, Zachary Jordon, Kyle Morse, Kyle Grey, Nate Lester, Steve Sturm, Evan Carmello and Joseph Tingue. Carl Wolf is the lone freshman pitcher and will be a factor in the Devils plans this season.
Jordon will start the season in the pen, but may also figure into his share of starts. As a freshman, he allowed only three walks in 31 innings.
Grey and Sciandra will be the lefties out of the pen and will challenge for their share of non-conference starts.
The Devils have a pair of junior additions. Morse comes to the Devils from Franklin Pierce College. Lester is the most athletic pitcher and will fill every role.
Tingue, a redshirt junior, was injured in the first game of the season a year ago, and offers the Devils an experienced arm. Sturm came on strong at the end of last season and had a 4/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
When asked what the difference between the staff this year and last Palisin said, "Last year we relied on mostly freshman and sophomore pitchers. We had a very young staff. Now we are a year better. Our preseason focus has been to make sure we can do everything we can to prepare the pitching staff better. The staff has more confidence and focus heading into this season."
The team opens the season this weekend, taking on Skyline Conference teams SUNY Purchase, Old Westbury and St. Joe's (Long Island). The Devils play one game at home against St. John Fisher and a doubleheader at Geneva (Pa.) College before heading to central Florida for a 10-game swing. The Devils will meet up with SUNYAC foe Plattsburgh in Florida.