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2010 Oakland City University Baseball Season Outlook

April 13, 2010 at 3:41 PM

The 2010 edition of Oakland City University Baseball comes with much higher expectations than recent years.  The Mighty Oak baseball team will look to rebuild from last year’s disappointing season filled with inconsistency and attrition.  This season’s squad returns four starting position players and six pitchers.  With the addition of eight talented transfers and an athletic group of six freshmen, the Oaks will look to improve upon last season’s injury riddled campaign.  Head coach T-Ray Fletcher’s outlook complies, “The returning young men as well as the new players have completely bought in to what we are trying to do offensively and on the mound.  We will play a fun style of baseball and should be dramatically more competitive than last season’s squad.” 

Although the expectations and talent for the Mighty Oaks has certainly increased, success will not come easy.  The 2010 schedule will likely pave an even tougher road for OCU with multiple matchups against nationally #7 ranked University of Indianapolis and #33 University of Southern Indiana.  The Oaks will also face formidable opponents on their spring break trip, including D-II mainstay University of Alabama-Huntsville.  The remaining schedule squares Oakland City off with road battles against Urbana University, Kentucky Wesleyan, and Brescia University.  Brooks C. Pinnick Field will play host to contests with St. Joseph’s College, Lincoln Memorial University, and NAIA power Ohio Dominican University. Head Coach T-Ray Fletcher commented, “The schedule is tough but the challenges will make us a better ball club entering post-season play.”

The 2010 rotation will be hotly contested by a young group of pitchers that gained valuable experience in the 2009 season.  Sophomore Cody Johnson (New Salisbury, IN) led the staff in innings pitched while fellow Sophomore Gordon VanBibber (Boonville, IN) returns as the team leader in wins. Junior College transfer pitchers Chris Stallion (Wabash Valley) and Mitch Masse (Lakeland) should give the young staff much needed experience and leadership.  The other spots will be a highly contested battles among sophomores Neal Kunkler (Dale, IN), Derek Allen (Elberfeld, IN), Logan Clark (Celestine, IN) and freshmen Logan Mohr (Ferdinand, IN) and Alex Portee (Washington, IN).  Senior Trent Creek (New Harmony, IN) will also look to add valuable depth to the bullpen with his steady improvement and toughness that saw him pitch in a variety of rolls last season.  Rounding out the pitching staff will be the left handed trio of senior Clay Thornberry (Sebree, KY), freshmen Taylor Lynn (Grayville, IL) and Steffano Bucciol (Caracas, Venezuela).  With a pitching staff this young, pitching coach Scott Chisholm states, “While experience can be a tool for a pitcher, we have trained each and every pitcher to be able to perform at the college level.  When our freshmen come into our program, they are freshmen only for the first day.  I expect each guy we send to the mound to be fully prepared to compete and give our ballclub a chance to win.”

The Mighty Oaks return two outfielders that saw extended play last season, in Jonas Cueche (Barcelona, Venezuela) and Lucas Izagas (San Juan, Puerto Rico).  Cueche led the team last season in AB (134) and was the toughest to strike out (9 in 134 AB).  Izagas gives steady defense and good speed on the bases. Chisholm claims, “The maturation of Izagas has been tremendous from last year and we expect his play to be much more consistent because of his passion for understanding and learning the game.” Harry Turney (Lansing, MI) returns from injury that cost him the entire 2009 season and should give good defense, speed, and a solid bat at the top of the line-up.  Rounding out the other players competing for time in the outfield are two freshmen:  Marc Rogier (Ferdinand, IN) and Lucas Swartzentruber (Odon, IN).  Each outfielder brings a different element that makes them valuable to not only the defense but the line-up at any given time.  Chisholm adds, “We expect our outfield to make routine plays and play smart and decisive.  Also, each of these guys will be vital to our success on the bases this year because our offensive philosophy of on-base percentage.”

The infield will be led by senior Juan Carlos Calderon (Caracas, Venezuela).  Calderon is the leading returning hitter from last season (.316).  He will compete for time at first base and DH.  Also returning to compete for time are seniors Elvis DeAbreu (Esparta, Venezuela), Clay Thornberry; juniors Brian Jones (Spencer, IN), Jorge Tauil (Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela), Gustavo Bencid (Caracas, Venezuela). Freshman Alfonso Gratterol (Caracas, Venezuela) and Napoleon Salazar (Caracas, Venezuela) will continue to develop as defensive options with additional reps. The left side of the infield should be held down by Junior College transfer Andrew Woodason (Lakeland) and freshman Logan Mohr.  Fletcher adds, “Woodason brings a big bat that should fit in the middle of the lineup while Mohr adds speed and defense to the shortstop position while standing out as the most consistent player this past fall.”   It is noteworthy to include redshirt infielders: Eric Barnes (Evansville, IN), Rolando Lopez (Santa Claus, IN), Josh Federico (Windsor, Ontario), and Michael Cardinale (Mississauga, Ontario).  “This is really a talented group of infielders that continue to push each other in their development.  It is exciting to think about the future of each of these players when they are eligible to compete in 2011,” adds Chisholm.

The catchers will be led by senior leader John Feltner (Indianapolis, IN).  Feltner adds experience and leadership behind the plate.  He is a table setter offensively, and he will be looked upon to give the team a boost towards playing pitch by pitch.  Joining Feltner is junior Jesse Brandt (Stewardson, IL).  Brandt has joined Feltner as a duo of catchers that take a great deal of responsibility in handling the pitching staff. “A lot of the success that our young pitching staff could have will weigh heavily on these two,” states Fletcher.

NCCAA Mid-East Regionals are set for May 13-15 and the NCCAA National Tournament will be held in Mason, Ohio May 19-22.

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