Baseball – 2014 Season Preview: Southern
Head Coach: Thomas Natoli, fifth season
Record Last Year: 5-16 (2-12, seventh in A South)
|Returning Starters||Yr.||Position||2013 Batting Stats||2013 Pitching Stats|
|Chris Starner||Sr.||1B||.390/.471/.458, 4 2B, 13 RBI|
|Eric Hammell||Sr.||CF||.309, .351 OBP, 11 R, 15 SB|
|Nick Sinopoli||Sr.||OF/P||.302, .362 OBP, 4 2B, 11 R|
Key Losses: Mark Heslin (C), Dan Higgins (SS/P), Anthony Speziale (3B/P), Zach Brown (OF)
Key Newcomers: Nick Scalone (Sr., P), Vinnie Colecchia (Sr., C), Kevin Dynak (Sr., 2B), Nick Liantonio (Sr., 3B), Zach Mason (Jr., P), Ethan Fonteix (Jr., P), Chris Leung (Jr., P), Joe Lashine (Jr., P), T.J. Ring (Jr., 3B/P/C), Mike Lee (Jr., INF), Bobby Hatton (Jr., P), Jared Lubanski (So., P), Ronnie Velardi (So., OF/P)
Like Lacey, the Rams were better than their poor divisional record suggests, and in their case, it was the bats that did most of the talking. While it was not the best offense in the division, Southern put up a good fight at the plate more times than not, and it is reflected as much in numbers of their key returnees. Senior first baseman Chris Starner hit .390 with a .471 on-base percentage and four doubles as a junior and will hold down the middle of the batting order again this year. Senior outfielders Nick Sinopoli and Eric Hammell each hit above .300 with 11 runs scored as well, and Hammell brings an element of speed, having swiped 15 bases last year.
Southern’s Achilles heel over the past several years has been its pitching, which makes it hard to win in a division with deep lineups and pitchers capable of holding a good offense down. Sinopoli returns with the most experience on the rubber and will lead a staff of newcomers who will attempt to breathe new life into the team. Southern still has the holdovers on offense to hang with the Jacksons, Toms Rivers and Bricks, but the pitching has to take a step forward to make it count.
The Rams are usually good for an upset or two every year, but last year their only wins in the division came against last-place Lacey. Just about every night in Class A South is a chance at an upset, and Southern will look to finish a few of those off this year after just missing on a couple last year. If the Rams can pull off one or two out of the gate, that could be the start of something much bigger.