UNCW Picked To Repeat As CAA Baseball Champions
The Seahawks received five first-place votes and finished atop the poll with 75 points. Hofstra picked up three first-place votes and was second with 69 points. James Madison was chosen third with 62 points and Delaware got two first-place votes and was fourth with 57 points. George Mason placed fifth in the voting, followed by Old Dominion, William & Mary, Towson, Northeastern and Georgia State.
UNCW returns five everyday starters and the majority of its pitching staff from last year's squad that went 39-23 overall and claimed the CAA regular-season (24-6) and tournament titles. The Seahawks return a pair of second-team All-CAA performers in senior Hunter Ridge (.340, 41 RBI's) and senior Michael Bass (.326, 33 RBI's). Also back is senior outfielder Tyler Molinaro, who led the league with 16 homers and made the All-CAA third team. Two of UNCW's weekend starting pitchers return with junior Mat Batts (6-5, 3.04 ERA/3rd team All-CAA) and sophomore Jordan Ramsey (4-3, 4.36 ERA/CAA All-Rookie). Junior Kelly Secrest (5-2, 2.12 ERA) anchors a deep and experienced bullpen.
Hofstra won a school-record 34 games (34-22) in 2012 and posted a best-ever second-place finish in the CAA with a 20-10 mark. The Pride returns four All-CAA honorees to a lineup that ranked in the top 10 nationally in 11 offensive categories last season. Leading that group are a pair of senior first-team all-conference infielders in first baseman Jared Hammer (.376, 66 RBI's) and shortstop Dalton Rouleau (.328, 31 RBI's). Also back are catcher Matt Reistetter (.283) and outfielder Kenny Jackson (.344, 51 RBI's), who made the All-CAA second team. Hofstra's pitching staff is led by third-team All-CAA starter John Tiedemann (7-5, 5.13 ERA) and closer Bryan Verbitsky (1-3, 5 saves).
Injuries played a big role in James Madison slipping to 16-35-2 overall last season, but the Dukes should be back among the CAA contenders with eight everyday starters returning. Junior infielders Ty McFarland (.330) and Conner Brown (.338, 33 RBI's) earned third-team all-conference honors in 2012 as did senior outfielder Cole McInturff (.360, 25 RBI's). The return of outfielder Johnny Bladel (suspension) and first baseman Matt Tenaglia (injury) will provide a lift to the lineup. The Dukes' top returning pitcher is sophomore starter Patrick Toohers (2-3, 4.29 ERA).
Delaware went 31-27 overall and reached the CAA championship game a year ago. Topping a group of eight returning everyday starters is junior first baseman Jimmy Yezzo (.358, 46 RBI's), who was a third-team All-CAA pick and the MVP of the 2012 CAA Championship. Also back are senior second baseman D.J. Long (.289, 29 RBI's) and senior outfielder Nick Ferdinand (.313, 47 RBI's). Back on the mound for the Blue Hens are junior starter Chad Kuhl (5-5, 4.42 ERA) and senior closer Stephen Richter (1-1, 8 saves).
The CAA also announced it preseason All-CAA baseball team, which was voted on by the league's head coaches.
Headlining the team are Hofstra's Hammer and Delaware's Yezzo, who were selected as the CAA Co-Preseason Players of the Year. UNCW had a league-best five players on the squad with Bass, Molinaro, Ridge, Batts and Secrest.
Also making the squad were Hofstra's Rouleau, JMU's Brown, William & Mary third baseman Ryan Lindemuth, Northeastern catcher John Puttress and outfielder Aaron Barbosa and Towson utility player Brendan Butler and pitcher Michael Trionfo.
2013 CAA BASEBALL PRESEASON PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. UNCW (5 first-place votes) 75
2. Hofstra (3 first-place votes) 69
3. James Madison 62
4. Delaware (2 first-place votes) 57
5. George Mason 49
6. Old Dominion 32
7. William and Mary 30
8. Towson 28
9. Northeastern 27
10. Georgia State 21
2013 PRESEASON ALL-CAA BASEBALL TEAM
John Puttress, Northeastern C Sr. New Providence, N.J. (.323, 0 HR, 29 RBI)
Jared Hammer, Hofstra 1B Sr. Flemington, N.J. (.376, 4 HR, 66 RBI)
Jimmy Yezzo, Delaware 1B Jr. Cherry Hill, N.J. (.358, 8 HR, 46 RBI)
Michael Bass, UNCW 2B Sr. Fairmont, N.C. (.326, 33 RBI, 20 SB)
Dalton Rouleau, Hofstra SS Sr. Lompoc, Calif. (.328, 31 RBI, 26 SB)
Ryan Lindemuth, William & Mary 3B Jr. Burke, Va. (.376, 5 HR, 48 RBI)
Aaron Barbosa, Northeastern OF Jr. Dracut, Mass. (.352, 20 RBI, 14 SB)
Tyler Molinaro, UNCW OF Sr. Charlottesville, Va. (.273, 16 HR, 48 RBI)
Hunter Ridge, UNCW OF Sr. Asheboro, N.C. (.340, 4 HR, 41 RBI)
Brendan Butler, Towson UT So. Bel Air, Md. (.308, 34 RBI, 14 SB)
Conner Brown, James Madison DH Jr. Richmond, Va. (.338, 3 HR, 33 RBI)
Mat Batts, UNCW SP Jr. Winston-Salem, N.C. (6-5, 3.04 ERA, 90 K's)
Michael Trionfo, Towson SP Sr. Jacksonville, Md. (11-3, 3.35 ERA, 52 K's)
Kelly Secrest, UNCW RP Jr. Mt. Airy, N.C. (5-2, 1 sv., 2.12 ERA, 45 K's)
CAA Preseason Co-Players of the Year: Jared Hammer, Hofstra and Jimmy Yezzo, Delaware
Honorable Mention (players receiving multiple votes): Matt Reistetter, C, Hofstra; Ty Warrington, C, Delaware; D.J. Long, 2B, Delaware; Caden Bailey, So., SS, Georgia State; Jason Vosler, 3B, Northeastern; Blaise Fernandez, 3B, George Mason; Ty McFarland, 3B, James Madison; Kenny Jackson, OF, Hofstra; ColeMcInturff, OF, James Madison; Corey Dick, DH, UNCW; Chad Kuhl, SP, Delaware; John Tiedemann, SP, Hofstra; John Farrell, RP, William & Mary; Brandon Smith, RP, Old Dominion