This should be a fun year in the Patriot League as there isn’t one dominant team in the league with Navy having to reload. From top-to-bottom any team has a chance to win this league.
Army (2017 Record: 25-31, 10-10)
After finishing with a .500 record in conference, Army advanced to the Patriot League Semi-Finals where they were swept by the number two seed Holy Cross.
Catcher Jon Rosoff led the team with a .362 average last year, while scoring 43 runs with 10 doubles, 2 home runs and 35 RBI. He also has a very strong arm behind the plate. Jacob Hurtubise will take over a corner infield spot after hitting .238 last year with 32 runs scored. Trey Martin, Josh White and Matt Hudgins all return after solid 2017 seasons. Freshman infielder Anthony Giachin could bring some power to the lineup.
Tyler Giovinco was the team’s top pitcher last year with a 4.17 ERA in 69 innings pitched with 48 strikeouts. Sam Messina was solid out of the bullpen last year with a 5.27 ERA in 27.1 innings pitched with 36 strikeouts. He throws in the low-90’s with a very good slider. He worked some as a closer last year, but should move into the starting rotation.
The team needs to throw more strikes in 2018 after walking 4.2 batters per game last year. They also hope to continue to be more consistent in scoring runs after scoring 5.5 runs per game and hitting .255 as a team last year. Improving their situational hitting and playing more small ball will help them improve offensively.
Bucknell (2017 Record: 21-28, 10-10)
Despite finishing with just a 10-10 conference record, Bucknell advanced to the Patriot League Semi-Finals where they upset top seeded Navy. But then they were swept in the Patriot League Championship Series by Holy Cross.
Shortstop Luke Johnson should be back in the middle of the order after hitting .282 last year with 24 runs scored, 11 doubles, 3 home runs and 27 RBI. Outfielder JohnPaul Bell hit .273 a year ago with 25 runs scored. Center fielder Chuckie Scales hit .243 last year with 27 runs scored and a team-high 9 stolen bases. Newcomer Dom Toso could have an immediate impact playing in the infield.
Connor Van Hoose was brilliant on the mound last year with a 2.28 ERA in 83 innings pitched with 97 strikeouts. He’ll be one of the best starting pitchers in the conference. Jeff Gottesman should get a chance in the starting rotation as well after posting a 6.33 ERA a year ago in 54 innings pitched. Head Coach Scott Heather said he had a very good fall. Freshman Brenden Tuttle should contribute right away on the mound.
Head Coach Scott Heather said he would love to see this team limit the free bases via walks, hit batters and errors.
Holy Cross (2017 Record: 24-29, 12-8)
Things didn’t start out great for Holy Cross in 2017 as they lost their first seven games. But they finished with a winning conference record and then won the Patriot League Tournament. In the Corvallis Regional they eliminated Nebraska.
With the top three hitters gone from last year, outfielder Austin Masel is the team’s leading returning hitter. He batted .290 last season with 37 runs scored, 12 doubles, 4 home runs and 27 RBI. Second baseman Cam O’Neill led the team with 9 home runs and 42 RBI last year. Kellen McCormick, Russo Thomas and Chris Rinaldi also return with plenty of experience.
Pat McGowan and Declan Cronin come back as the most experienced guys from last year after they lost their top four guys with the most innings pitched in 2017.
This team loses an extraordinary amount of talent from last year’s team. It’s hard not to imagine them taking a big step back in 2018.
Lafayette (2017 Record: 8-44, 4-16)
It wasn’t pretty for Lafayette in 2017 with just eight wins overall.
Second baseman Steven Cohen hit .331 a year ago with 36 runs scored, 15 doubles, 3 triples, 5 home runs, 16 RBI and 8 stolen bases. Catcher John Selsor hit .301 last year with 4 home runs and 35 RBI. John Selsor, Bubb Quentin and Luke Robinson all return as key contributors from last year.
Brett Kreyer made 10 starts last year and had a 6.54 ERA in 53.2 innings pitched with 31 strikeouts. Connor Jones was solid out of the bullpen last year with a 6.41 ERA in 46.1 innings pitched with 25 strikeouts. Mark Anderson, Brendan Ball and Kyle Johnson all threw significant innings last year.
I really like the offense coming back on this team, but they’ll need some returning pitchers to take a step forward in order for them to make significant gains as far as wins go.
Lehigh (21-29, 8-12)
It was a disappointing year for Lehigh as they failed to make the Patriot League Tournament with just eight conference wins.
Shortstop James Bleming is back after hitting .268 in 2017 with 35 runs scored, 9 doubles, 4 home runs, 21 RBI and 12 stolen bases. Outfielder Chris Kersey hit .315 last year in just 108 at-bats with 22 runs scored, 4 home runs and 21 RBI. Catcher Jeff Shanfeldt hit .238 a year ago and should be back behind the plate.
Levi Stoudt should be back in the weekend rotation after posting a 2.34 ERA last year in 61.2 innings pitched with 45 strikeouts. Jason Reynolds made seven starts last year and had a 3.68 ERA in 51.1 innings pitched with 48 strikeouts. Matt Hand, Ethan Frohman and Cole McManimon all threw 30 innings or more last year and should be a big part of the pitching staff.
This team loses a lot from the lineup, but almost everyone is back in the pitching staff. If they can figure out the lineup situation early, this team could jump into the top four.
Navy (2017 Record: 37-17, 16-4)
It was a very solid year for Navy in 2017 winning 37 games and finishing with the best record in the conference. But they fell flat in the Patriot League Tournament getting swept by Bucknell in the semi-finals.
Third baseman Jacob Williamson hit .296 last year with 32 runs scored, 13 doubles, 5 home runs and 25 RBI. He’ll try to be the anchor for this lineup in 2018. Center fielder Logan Knowles hit .330 last year with 56 runs scored, 14 doubles, 6 triples, 23 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Freshman infielder Tristan Capocci should have an immediate impact on the lineup.
Noah Song will lead the starting staff in 2018 after posting a 3.67 ERA in 13 starts and 76 innings pitched last year with 89 strikeouts. He’ll push for the Patriot League Pitcher of the Year Award in 2018. A couple of freshman arms, Tommy Goodridge and Sante Grossi, should pitch some significant innings this season.
This team loses a lot of key contributors from 2017, so they’ll have to rely heavily on the maturation of some inexperienced players like Jacob Williamson, Zach Biggers, Evan Lowery, Michael Coritz and Alex Smith, as well as upperclassman like Logan Knowles, Stephen Born, Noah Song and Sean Kamhoot. They also bring in some talented freshman, but they’ll need to all gel together quickly to get back to where they were last year.
2018 All-Patriot League Preseason Team:
C: Jon Rosoff (Army)
1B: Cam O’Neill (Holy Cross)
2B: Steven Cohen (Lafayette)
SS: Luke Johnson (Bucknell)
3B: Jacob Williamson (Navy)
OF: Logan Knowles (Navy)
OF: Austin Masel (Holy Cross)
OF: Matt Hudgins (Army)
DH: John Selsor (Lafayette)
SP: Connor Van Hoose (Bucknell)
SP: Noah Song (Navy)
SP: Tyler Giovinco (Army)
SP: Levi Stoudt (Lehigh)
RP: Connor Jones (Lafayette)
RP: Sean Kamhoot (Navy)
RP: Ethan Frohman (Lehigh)
Predicted Order to Finish:
- Holy Cross