Baseball – 2021 Shore Conference Preview: Mater Dei Prep
Mater Dei’s athletic department has undergone and is continuing to undergo a lot of changes over the last eight years but through it all, the baseball program under Pat Riddell was a reliable commodity. The year the school announced it would have to close – which was avoided thanks to a massive fundraising campaign – the Seraphs baseball team won its first Shore Conference Class B Central division championship in more than a decade and added another one in 2019.
After missing out on a chance to defend the title in 2020 with a team of 13 seniors, Riddell stepped down after 15 seasons and left the program to assistant Mike Eckert. In his first season, Eckert will look to steady the ship with an inexperienced team in a B Central division that is getting very competitive at the top with perennial Group I contender Point Beach remaining strong and Ranney emerging as a potential Shore Conference power.
On Mater Dei’s end, the Seraphs will rely on a pair of seniors with experience. Senior Jack Olausen was a part-time contributor as a sophomore and will play first base and help lead the pitching staff. Junior Jake Jacobsen made an impact as a freshman two years ago and is ready to step up as a top hitter – both on the team and within the division as a whole.
Eckert excels working with catchers and he will continue his work with Xavier Maldonado, now a senior ready to take the starting reins behind the plate. Second baseman Jeremy Ramos is another senior moving into the starting lineup and Mater Dei will get some help from the basketball team with Gerard Novello, Andreas Von Fricke and David Shkolniy all joining the baseball team for the first time. All three two-sport athletes transferred from schools in Staten Island over the past two school years.
Sophomore Sean Hanna leads the youth movement and will play shortstop and figure prominently into Mater Dei’s pitching plans. Freshman Gavin Sansone will play some outfield and first base in the lineup and also add a left-hander to the rotation. Things remain as fluid as ever at Mater Dei and the baseball team will look to remain competitive through it all in a fast-improving division.
Mater Dei at a Glance
Head Coach: Mike Eckert, first season
Key Losses: Sean Turner (SS/RHP), Patrick Mastro (CF/RHP), Pete Gorman (OF/MIF), Johnny Eckert (3B/RHP), Mike Folk (OF/RHP), Ashton Mejias (1B/RHP), Vernon Morris (OF), R.J. O’Keefe (2B/1B), John Ferrara (C), Jesse Ascolese (OF), Matt Curti (2B), Dylan Morales (OF)
Around the Diamond (Returning 2019 starters in bold with available stats)
Catcher: Xavier Maldonado, Sr.
First Base: Jack Olausen, Sr.; Gavin Sansone, Fr.
Second Base: Jeremy Ramos, Sr.
Shortstop: Sean Hanna, So.
Third Base: Gerard Novello, Jr.
Left Field: David Corbisiero, Jr.
Center Field: Jake Jacobsen, Jr. (.150/.292/.225, 3 2B, 9 R, 3 RBI, 10 SB)
Right Field: Gavin Sansone, Fr.; Andreas Von Fricke, Sr.
Other Key Hitters
Cole Devaney (Sr., UTIL)
David Shkolniy (Sr., 3B/C)
Gavin Kissinger (Jr., OF/2B)
Jack Olausen, Sr., RHP
Sean Hanna, So., RHP
Gavin Sansone, Fr., LHP
Brian Burnett, So., RHP
David Shkolniy, Sr., RHP