For the first time since 2004, the Colonial Athletic Association sent two teams (James Madison and UNC Wilmington) to the NCAA tournament. CAA teams begin non-conference play this Friday when James Madison takes on Southern Illinois in Conway, S.C. Here’s a rundown of the CAA teams in action this weekend.
Here’s a look at the CAA teams in action this weekend. (Teams are in order of their predicted finish by a vote of the league’s coaches)
James Madison (39-19, 20-9 CAA.
The Dukes will open regular season play at the Caraville Resort Invitational in Conway, S.C. In addition to facing Southern Illinois, James Madison will take on Kentucky and Troy Saturday before facing host Coastal Carolina at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.
James Madison returns 20 of 25 lettermen from last season, including junior center fielder Alex Foltz (.355-7-38, 19 steals), sophomore utilityman Trevor Knight (.360-3-28) and sophomore pitcher Turner Phelps (8-0, 3.87). The Dukes did lose a combined 38 home runs and 125 RBI from last season with the loss of first baseman Steven Caseres and outfielder Bret Sellers. Casares was drafted in the 277th round by the LA Dodgers, while Sellers signed as a free agent with the Washington Nationals.
Probable pitchers for the weekend:
JMU: LHP Justin Wood (4-3, 5.53) vs. Southern Illinois: RHP Adam Curynski (5-1 2.37)
JMU: LHP Alex Valadja (0-0, 11.63) vs. Kentucky: RHP Sean Bouthilette (collegiate debut)
JMU: RHP Evan Scott (collegiate debut) vs. Troy: LHP Travis Burge (5-3 6.03)
George Mason (30-25, 18-10)
The Patriots begin the 2009 regular season Friday when they take on USC Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C. at 4 p.m. They will play their next three games in Spartanburg against UNC Asheville Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Sunday vs. SIU Edwardsville at 11 a.m.
GMU returns all nine starting position players from last season’s squad including senior outfielder Scott Krieger (.381-21-60) and junior first baseman Justin Bour (.398-15-65). The Patriots return three juniors on the mound in starter Dan Gerjets (6-3 5.16), relievers Ryan Brecko (7-2 3.94), and Jordan Flasher, who missed all of last season but saved 14 games in 2007.
The Patriots have not announced their pitching matchups.
UNC Wilmington (44-17-1, 25-4-1)
The Seahawks won the CAA regular title in 2008. They open their season with a three game series versus Maryland at Brooks Field this weekend. Game times are 4 p.m., 2 p.m., and 1 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The Seahawks bring back a trio of Freshman All-Americans in catcher Cody Stanley (.288-5-32) and pitchers Cameron Roth (5-3, 3.77, 4 svs) and Stephen Harrold (4-2, 3.71, 6 svs). Gone is Brad Holt (11-1, 3.28) who was drafted by the Mets 33rd overall in the supplemental draft.
Pitching matchups for this weekend:
Friday: Maryland RHP Brett Harman (1-1, 6.19) vs. UNCW RHP Daniel Cropper (5-5 3.75 in 2007).
Saturday: Maryland LHP Adam Kolarek (2-1, 4.26) vs. UNCW RHP Seth Frankoff (6-2, 4.42)
Sunday: Maryland RHP Ian Schwalenberg (1-2, 8.27) vs. UNCW RHP Jesse Haney (1-2 7.94)
Georgia State (33-23, 12-17)
The Panthers return 17 lettermen, including three All-CAA performers senior infielder Derek Simmons (.379-6-32), junior infielder Bradley Logan (.376-11-63) and senior pitcher Robinson Polanco (8-4, 4.35). Georgia State will host Cleveland State for a four game series this weekend.
Friday: Cleveland State: LHP Josh Hungerman (5-3, 5.11) vs. Georgia State LHP Robinson Polanco (8-4, 4.35)
Saturday: Cleveland State RHP Brian Long (4-5, 3.98) vs. Georgia State RHP Adam Knight (4-3, 6.20)
Saturday: Cleveland State RHP Dylan Henry (0-5, 5.57) vs. Georgia State
Sunday: Cleveland State LHP Anthony Sambula (3-3, 6.45) or RHP Nate Blankemeyer (2-1 7.25) vs. Georgia State RHP John Locklear (2-1 7.56)
William & Mary (36-21, 16-13)
The Tribe will open the season this weekend at 30Plumeri Park hosting the DeMarini First Pitch Classic. Buffalo and Iona will join W&M in two games each of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with the Tribe appearing at 4 p.m. Friday against Buffalo, 12 p.m. against Iona and 4 p.m. against Buffalo on Saturday, and at 3 p.m. against Iona on Sunday. Pitching matchups have not been announced.
Junior righthander Kevin Landry (3-1 6.32) was selected as the CAA’s top draft prospect by Baseball America, while the publication also tabbed senior outfielder Rob Nickle (.331-10-48, 13 sb) to their All-Conference team.
Towson (30-28, 14-16)
The Tigers begin the season traveling to the University of New Orleans. The first game is Friday at 2 p.m. The teams will play a doubleheader Saturday, with game one at noon, before wrapping up the series with a 1 p.m. Sunday game. Pitching matchups have not been announced. CAA Defensive Player of the Year Nick Natoli (.349-3-37, 17 sb) teams with second baseman Gary Helmick (.279-8-27) to give the Tigers a pair of veterans up the middle. After spending much of last season at DH, senior Matt Collins (.319-7-50) will take over at first base this season.
Virginia Commonwealth (15-30, 8-17)
The Rams will open their season with four games at Central Florida. Friday’s game starts at 6:30 p.m., while game one of Saturday’s game begins at 4 p.m. The series wraps up with a pair of 1 p.m. games on Sunday and Monday. Pitching matchups have not been announced. VCU lost All-CAA first baseman Jared Bolden (.355-12-44) to the Texas Rangers in the 9th round of the draft. Senior outfielder Justin Wright (.311-2-18) returns, along with infielder Richard Gonzalez (.305-0-24). The pitching staff features eight arms with no more then a year of collegiate experience.
Old Dominion (25-27, 14-14)
The Monarchs open the 2009 season this weekend as they head to Winston-Salem, N.C. to play in the Wake Forest Invitational for four games starting on Friday with a 2:30 pm game against Marshall.
The Monarchs will play a twin bill on Saturday as they face Marshall again at 11:00am and then face host Wake Forest at 6:00 pm. ODU will face Akron in the finale on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. Probable starters have not been announced.
Old Dominion starts the season with 14 newcomers. Gone is two-way talent Anthony Shawler (.314-7-40; 5-3, 5.35 ), who was drafted in the ninth round by the Detriot Tigers. Junior shortstop Gerard Hall (.361-2-17, 13 sb) and senior outfielder Max Most (.257-3-22, 20 sb) give the Monarchs speed in their lineup. Sophmore Kyle Hald (3-3, 5.02), returns on the mound.
Delaware (22-31, 11-17)
The Blue Hens will open the season with four games this weekend at Longwood, including a doubleheader on Saturday. Play begins at 1 p.m. each day. Pitching matchups have not been announced.
Junior first baseman Ryan Cuneo led the team in average (.351) and had six home runs and 48 RBI.
Team MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Reed (.299-5-28) will return for his senior year behind the plate.
Northeastern (25-26-1, 12-17-1)
The Huskies will be the last CAA team to open play when they face Eckerd College Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Sarasota, Fla. The Huskies deep pitching staff is led by senior Jeff Thomson (6-5, 5.45). Junior Ryan Quigley (2-4 8.06) has been throwing the ball well in the offseason and will look to build off an excellent Cape League season. Senior third baseman Mike Tamsin (.380-2-26) and senior catcher Frank Pesenallo (.278-20-51) pack a wallop in the 3-4 spots. Gone is senior shortstop Mike Lyon (.357-14-46), who was taken in the 24th round by the New York Yankees. Thomson will take the mound Wednesday. The Tritons have not announced their starter.
Hofstra (19-36, 7-23)
The Pride face a challenging opening series against No. 17 Florida State in Tallahassee. Junior third baseman Matt Prokopowicz (.312-8-39) and senior shortstop Chris Mentrasti (.302-0-16) return. Senior Brody Fontaine (6-6, 6.34) will get the nod on opening day. The rest of the pitching matchups haven’t been announced.