2009 Wright State Season Preview

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE

Head Coach Rob Cooper

Head Coach Rob Cooper

DAYTON, Ohio – The 2009 baseball season starts in just four days and the Wright State Baseball team will look to start the season off with a bang as they travel to face the #1 team in the land, Texas A&M to open their schedule. The 2009 edition will start the season with most of its starting lineup intact, but have to fill the void of four key players lost from last season’s team.

After losing three players to the Major League Draft and five players to graduation, WSU will need to find a pair of infielders and two outfielders, but the prospects are looking up as the team heads into the 2009 season. The 2009 schedule will feature 13 teams that were ranked to end the 2008 season or are ranked in the 2009 preseason rankings, to go along with a much improved Horizon League slate. Wright State will play 23 versus opponents from the state of Ohio, face off against nationally ranked Texas A&M, Tulane, Kent State and Georgia, all while shooting for their second NCA Tournament berth in the past three seasons.

Below is quick rundown of each position as it stands heading into the 2009 season.

Behind the Plate

The Green and Gold will return 2008 First Team All-League selection Gerald Ogrinc behind the plate and add a pair of freshman in 2009.

Ogrinc led the Horizon League in baserunners caught stealing and was tops in the nation in pickoffs, among catchers. He owned a .310 batting average, drove in 28 RBI’s and scored 27 runs. The junior threw out 22 of 57 base runners in 2008 with 11 pickoffs and was a First Team All-Horizon League pick.

Also vying for time behind the plate will be freshman Garrett Gray and K.C. Weber. Gray joins the Raiders after playing at Tri-County North High School, while Weber helped Watkins Memorial to an OHSAA State Final Four and Regional Championship while with the Warriors.

Around the Horn

The Raiders infield will have the tall order of replacing First Team All-League picks Jeremy Hamilton and Justin Parker this season, but a solid core will return, along with some talented newcomers to fill the void left by the all-league departures.

Aaron Fields, R.J. Gundolff and Jeff Mercer each started over 40 games in the infield last season, while Kyle Mossbarger, Sam Mote and Kory Twede all saw time in the infield for Wright State.

Fields has two years of experience coming into 2009, posting his best season in the field and at the plate. The Detroit native boasted a .306 batting average and set career-highs in almost every offensive category during his sophomore campaign. Gundolff was named to the All-League Second Team and was a catalyst at the front of the Raiders batting order with a .374 on-base percentage. He tallied 41 runs and 16 RBI’s, while playing third base, shortstop and second base throughout the season.

Mercer was a First Team All-Horizon League pick last year, batting .345 with 53 RBI and 37 runs scored. He was the primary designated hitter for WSU, but saw action at first and third base. Mote started 21 games, while Mossbarger and Twede each appeared in at least 20 games in 2008.

Fresh faces in the infield this season include a pair of Ohio products in Jake Hibberd and Tristan Moore and Junior College Transfer Quentin Cate. Hibberd joins WSU after a three year career at Miamisburg High School, where he garnered All-Region honors his last two seasons. Moore was an All-Ohio selection as a senior and earned All-Ohio Capital Conference honors during each of his three varsity seasons.

Cate joins the Raiders as one of the most decorated recruits in recent history. The right-handed infielder/catcher can play third base, first base and handle the pitching staff behind the plate. He was the California Junior College Player of the Year in 2008 and won the California “Big Stick” Award, given to the top offensive producer in the state. He boasted a .422 batting average with 64 RBI’s and 14 home runs at Cuesta College.


Roaming the Outfield Grass

The loss of four-year starter John Kopilchack and veteran outfielder Ross Vagedes will mean that WSU will enter the season with only one player with true experience in the outfield.

Casey McGrew has played two seasons in the outfield and will look to help tutor his platoon mates. Ryan Ashe will look to make an impact after redshirting last season and having a solid summer in Illinois. Tony Scott will also return this season, with other players to be looked upon to help roam the outfield.

McGrew posted the third highest batting average on the team last season – hitting .346 – and drove in 27 RBI’s in 43 starts. He batted mainly in the #2 spot in the order and collected 62 hits during his sophomore campaign.

Ashe was named to the Central Illinois Collegiate League All-Star team and was an integral part of the Springfield (Ill.) Sliders CICL World Series Championship squad. Scott has seen limited action during his past two seasons and will join the outfield unit for the second season, after spending one season as a catcher.


On the Mound

Wright State will return the bulk of their pitching staff this season, losing only Scott Ruthven to graduation. All-League First Team selection Jon Durket returns, along with Alex Kaminsky – the Horizon League leader in victories last season – and Rylan Ostrosky. The closing duo of Michael Meintel and Greg Robinson will return this season after collecting eight saves in 2008.

Also returning with experience this season will be Bryce DeWeese, Griffin Knapp, Lee Valencheck, Jordan Wolfe and Michael Woytek.

Kaminsky led the Horizon League with eight victories last season, along with holding opposing hitters to a league best .255 batting average against.

Durket was the league-leader in earned run average and ranked second in victories and opponents batting average. He tossed a career-high 75 innings, over 70 more innings than he logged in 2007, with 56 strikeouts and only 22 walks.

Ostrosky and Woytek each started ten games last season, with Ostrosky holding a 3-3 mark with a .4.17 ERA. Meintel held a 1-3 mark with five saves in 21 appearances and Robinson converted three saves and boasted a 4-3 overall record.


On the Schedule

The 2009 schedule will be one of the toughest in school history, with the Raiders playing their first seven games against opponents ranked in the top-25 in at least one major poll.

Texas A&M, Tulane and Kentucky will open the slate, while the Raiders will also travel to play national contenders Kent State, Georgia, Vanderbilt and UNC-Wilmington away from home.

The home schedule includes 25 games, including games against in-state foes Miami, Xavier and Cincinnati. Also on the 2009 slate are five new teams and a tough Horizon League lineup that starts on March 20 at home.