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Baseball 2018 Season Preview

Photo by Lianne Yun '18
Photo by Lianne Yun '18

2018 SEASON OUTLOOK

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – The Wesleyan University baseball team is ecstatic to start its 2018 season on Sunday against Dubuque in Tucson, Ariz., as the Cardinals have lofty goals for this spring with a deep, talented and balanced roster.

The beginning portion of Wesleyan's schedule features 12 games in a 13-day period from Sunday, March 11 – Friday, March 23, in Tucson, Ariz., during the group's annual spring trip. The unit will conclude its journey in Arizona with a doubleheader against Carleton and Wisconsin-Superior on March 23.  

< COACHES CORNER WITH MARK WOODWORTH >

The Cardinals will then return to the Northeast, and hit the road for a 4 p.m. matchup against Eastern Connecticut State on March 28. Two days later, the team will travel to Beverly, Mass., with first pitch set for 4 p.m. against Endicott.

On March 31, the squad will compete in home-opening doubleheader action against non-conference foe Roger Williams, with game times set for 1 and 4 p.m., respectively. Wesleyan will jump into its NESCAC West Division slate with a three-game series against Middlebury on April 6-7 in Middletown, Conn.

In totality, the group is set to play 36 regular-season games, with 12 occurring at Dresser Diamond, 12 on the road, and another 12 neutral-site matchups. The journey includes 16 games in March and April, respectively, and then four in May, as the regular season concludes with a doubleheader against Trinity on May 5 in Hartford, Conn.

Head coach Mark Woodworth '94 returns for his 17th year at the helm of the program, as he led the team to back-to-back NESCAC Championships in 2014 and 2015 en route to qualifying for the NCAA Division III Tournament both seasons. During that two-year run, the Cardinals went 6-4 on the national stage, as the 2014 unit compiled a school-record 31 wins, and a year later, the 2015 squad went undefeated in the NESCAC with a 12-0 mark for the first time in program history.

Woodworth also led Wesleyan to the Little Three crown in his first year with the program in 2002, and then his teams rattled off four straight Little Three titles from 2013-16. The experienced coach has an outstanding staff around him, including assistants Bob Wojick and Chris Wojick.

The Cardinals will also be looking for strong leadership from their five-person senior class, all of whom are captains. The group features AJ Ferrara, Matt Jeye, Nick Coppola, Stephen Howard and Collin Andrews.

MEET THE TEAM

  • Wesleyan has a 34-person roster, comprised of 27 returning players and seven newcomers, including five seniors, nine juniors, 13 sophomores and seven rookies.
  • On the mound, the Cardinals return junior Ryan Earle, who went 5-0 last season in 13 appearances with an impressive 2.10 ERA, leading the team in wins and saves (four). Junior Mike McCaffrey will look to build off his strong 2017 campaign, which included a 3-3 record with nine appearances and seven starts, as he struck out a team-high 56 batters.
  • Wesleyan will also look for steady contributions on the hill from sophomore Alec Olmstead, who went 2-2 last season with 27 strikeouts in eight appearances. Juniors Doug Hartshorn, Peter DeLalio, Pat Clare, Dan Lombardo and Ben Cherington, sophomores Nolan Webb, Ben Browning, Jack Ginsberg and Jake Alonzo, and Howard will look to take the next step in their pitching careers.
  • The Cardinals' offensive lineup will also be experienced and talented, as junior outfielder Danny Rose compiled a .317 batting average last year, to go along with 33 hits, 17 RBIs and 10 runs scored. Jeye clocked 37 hits, and led the team with 29 RBIs and three homers, along with a .431 slugging percentage.
  • Earle chipped in with 30 hits, 20 runs and 18 RBIs in 119 at-bats, while also slamming a team-high three home runs. Sophomore infielder Jonny Corning belted 16 hits and one homer. Olmstead recorded some strong moments at the plate, tallying 13 hits, two doubles and a home run.
  • Wesleyan will be expecting strong play from the following returning athletes, consisting of junior Nick Valicenti, and sophomores Tanner Fulkerson, Jesse Levy-Rubinett, Kevin Walek, Andrew Kauf, Alex Cappitelli, Arno Utegg and Chase Pratt.
  • The Cardinals' rookie class features right-handed pitchers Joe Mescall, David Redfield and Sam Phipps, left-handed pitcher Kelvin Sosa, catcher Austin Beaudette, infielder Tommy Alpert and catcher/infielder Ben Owen.

HEAD COACH MARK WOODWORTH

"We have extremely high expectations for the season. The combination of incredible work ethic, and sophomores, who played a lot as freshmen, give us experience and talent, as well as great energy. On the mound, we have a lot of power arms, and defensively, we are quick and athletic. Offensively, we have a deep group of excellent hitters. We are looking forward to making a great run this season."