CHESTERTOWN, MD – With all four All-Centennial Conference players from 2011 back in the fold, a deeper pitching staff and a more versatile squad, the Washington College baseball team is hoping to return to the Centennial Conference Tournament for the second time in three years this spring as the Shoremen Nine seek to improve on a 17-18 overall and 8-10 conference record from a year ago in what will be the final season for head coach Al Streelman. Streelman announced in September that his 15th season would be his final season at the helm of the Shoremen.
Streelman, who guided the team to the conference tournament in 2010, talked about this club and is excited about the prospects for the 2012 squad.
"(There is) so much versatility on the team (this year). I never have had a team as versatile (as this one). This is as deep as a team that I have ever seen here," noted Streelman.
Senior John Rolewicz (Bear, DE/Salesianum) will be the starting catcher for the fourth straight year. A two-time second team all-conference pick, Rolewicz batted .355 with two home runs and a career-best 30 RBI in 2011, while scoring a team-best 31 runs. When Rolewicz is not behind the plate, senior Dwight Wilcox(Annapolis, MD/St. Mary's), junior CY Daniel Wu (Kowloon, Hong Kong/International Secondary School) and freshman Kyle Mikula (Stafford, VA/Colonial Forge) will see time at the catcher position. Wilcox was second on the team in home runs last year as he socked three.
The infield is led by senior shortstop Ryan Normoyle (Mt. Laurel, NJ/Lenape). Normoyle had a strong junior campaign where he hit a team-high .394 and also led the team in hits (56), doubles (12), home runs (5), RBI (35), total bases (85), slugging (.599) and stolen bases (15). He is the school's all-time leader in doubles with 38 and needs just two hits to become the school's all-time leader in that category as he is currently at 148. He was a second team all-conference selection for the second straight season last spring. Junior first baseman Tyler Cotterell (Lincroft, NJ/Middletown South) is the incumbent at first base and he hit .305 last spring with 10 RBI. In the field, he made just two errors in 209 chances. Another player who will see time at first is freshman Dennis Thomas (Baltimore, MD/Archbishop Curley). Sophomore Nick Marinelli (Ellicott City, MD/Marriotts Ridge) is the probable starter at second base, but also in the fold for time at second base is sophomore Jon Mahaffey (Sykesville, MD/Century). There is a three-way battle for third base between junior Joe Willis (Mullica Hill, NJ/Kingsway Regional), freshman Joe DiPaola (Annapolis, MD/Broadneck) and Wu.
Centerfield will be patrolled by junior Sean Connole (Mt. Airy, MD/St. John's Catholic). Connole, who was a second team all-conference pick last year, missed half of the 2011 season with an injury, but still managed to hit .383 and averaged over one hit per game. In right field, sophomore Ian Remington (Guilford, CT/Guilford) will most likely be the starter at that position. He had a great rookie campaign as he hit .389, second on the team, with 37 RBI, eight doubles and six stolen bases. There is a four-way competition for the starting left field gig. The quartet competing for the spot are DiPaola and freshmen Brian Alexa (Silver Spring, MD/Good Counsel), Matt Christopher (Kennett Square, PA/Unionville) and Scott Matthews(Goshen, NY/Don Bosco Prep (NJ).
The Shoremen are strong up the middle as the three all-conference field players play up the middle with Rolewicz at catcher, Normoyle at shortstop and Connole in centerfield.
The pitching is anchored by senior Shane Mattingly (Ellicott City, MD/Centennial) and junior Kyle Aldrich (Warren, NJ/Watchung Hills Regional). Mattingly was 4-3 a year ago with a 3.21 ERA and struck out a team-best 47 batters. He did not allow an earned run in the first 22 innings he tossed in conference play last year. Mattingly, who tossed a team-high three complete games, was an honorable mention all-conference pick last year and two years ago was a first team selection. Aldrich, who went 3-3 last year with a 3.74 ERA, walked just seven batters and had two saves, to tie for the team-high, and hurled two complete games. Mattingly will be the team's number one starter, while Aldrich will see time as a starter and in relief.
Junior Joe Kearney-Argow (Mt. Laurel, NJ/Lenape) should be one of Streelman's starters again in 2012. He tied Mattingly for team-high in wins last year with four and started a team-best nine games last year. He went 4-4 with 26 strikeouts. He tied Aldrich for tops in innings pitched last year with 55.1. Others who could see time in the rotation are senior Kevin Lynch (Audubon, NJ/Audubon), sophomore Brian Lewis (Ellicott City, MD/Mount Hebron) and freshmen Sean Baldwin (Stafford, VA/Colonial Forge) and Michael Long (Ellicott City, MD/Centennial).
The bullpen will have plenty of arms in Christopher, DiPaola, Matthews, senior Steve Cameron (Laurel, MD/Reservoir), sophomores Ben Cameron(Laurel, MD/Reservoir), Tom Fiala (New Hope, PA/New Hope-Solebury) and AJ Schmalfuhs (Morristown, NJ/Morristown) and freshman David Kendrick (Ellicott City, MD/Centennial).
Connole could also see time on the hill. He could start or relieve in non-conference games and could see time in relief in Centennial contests.
Senior Hunter Draheim (Hollywood, MD/Leonardtown) is one of the candidates for the closer position this year. Last spring he notched two saves to tie for the team high.
Streelman said this team has 21 pitchers this year compared to just 14 last year.
There are 21 returnees and 12 newcomers on this year's squad. 11 of the 12 new players are freshmen, while one is a junior.
The Shoremen will play teams from seven states (Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia in 2012. The Shoremen open the 2012 season on February 25 against visiting Neumann at 2:00 p.m. and is one of 17 games at home this year. The Shoremen will play 11 road games and seven games in Florida. Washington will travel Salisbury on March 2 and Salisbury is ranked ninth in the D3baseball.com/NCBWA Top 25 poll. The Shoremen will entertain defending Capital Athletic Conference Champion Frostburg State on March 8 and have a home and home on April 17 and 20 with Centennial Conference Champion Johns Hopkins, with the former being at home.
In Centennial action, the Shoremen will play home and homes with Franklin & Marshall, Johns Hopkins, who has won the past five conference crowns, McDaniel and Swarthmore. Washington will travel to Muhlenberg and Ursinus in conference doubleheaders, while hosting Dickinson, Gettysburg and Haverford in conference twinbills.
Streelman is enjoying his final club. "I like this team," stated Streelman. "Coaching this group so far has been a pleasure. They're working very hard, they got talent and it should be a good year. (I am) hoping for some big things (this spring)."