By Mari Pothier | email@example.com
Photo by Dyann Busse
With the return of many talented seniors and the pickup of powerful transfers, the Flagler College baseball team appears to be dominant in all areas of the game.
Flagler lost two out of three games in their season opening series against the University of West Florida. On opening day, Feb. 3, the Saints slid past the Argonauts 4-3.
Rounding out last season with a 21-28 overall record and going 9-15 against Peach Belt teams, the Saints were picked to finish 10th in the 2012 Preseason Peach Belt Conference Coaches Poll.
But with an experienced starting lineup including power hitters, head coach David Barnett is confident about his team’s success this season.
“We’re very excited and optimistic about the prospects this year,” Barnett said. “This is probably the most veteran team that we’ve had at Flagler in my time here as far as experience.”
Barnett’s infield this season includes seniors John Sgromolo at first base, Will Percy at second, Devon Hellett at short stop and Nate Fudala at third.
Fudala, who earned all-conference honors last year, has been a successful utility player for the Saints. He has played every position on the field except for pitching and first base, Barnett said. He is also going to be the team’s leadoff hitter.
“He’s led our team in on base percentage in the last few years,” Barnett said. “He’s got an act for getting on base.”
The Saint’s power hitters can be found in the outfield with transfers Jay Laurienzo at center field and Brett Moreland in left field. Laurienzo will be batting fourth in the lineup and Moreland will be batting third.
Barnett said another threat offensively is returning senior Kyle Foti who led the team last year in doubles and home runs.
“He’s a great catcher,” Barnett said about Foti. “He’s really improved defensively and is a threat to drive the ball out of the park, too.”
The Saints were lucky this year losing only three key players from last season: Travis Coverston, Jose Rohena and Ollie Bertrand.
Because of this Barnett said the team has both a strong offense and defense.
“I would say our strengths are going to be the potential of our offense because we really don’t have any weak outs in the lineup,” he said. “Then we have some guys on the bench that are good hitters, too.”
Another element Barnett mentioned in maintaining success this season is having a consistent effort on the mound from all the pitchers.
The Saints return starting pitchers, Jonathan Armold and Micah Kellogg, and short reliever, Max Rusch, who totaled eight saves last season.
With the fierce competition in the Peach Belt, Barnett said the Saints brought in a good recruiting class.
“We brought in guys that can play and compete in this conference,” Barnett said. “After being in it two years as a coach you see what you’re up against.”
Barnett said Francis Marion looks to be a tough team to beat in the Peach Belt along with UNC Pembroke, USC Aiken and Armstrong Atlantic. Even with the tough competition he feels his team this season can compete.
“I like this group,” Barnett said about his team. “This group is experienced, they’re hungry, they work hard.”