After making the conference tournament in 2015 for the first time since 2011, the Mustangs will return 11 seniors for the 2016 baseball season. They have been picked to finish fourth in the Middle Atlantic Commonwealth (MAC) conference according to the preseason coaches’ poll.
“I feel good about our chances this year. With myself and the other seniors we have returning, we have a lot of experience and leadership, so it should be a good year,” said senior pitcher Alec Romanowski. Romanowski leads the Mustang’s pitching staff this season along with seniors Ryan Martin, Reid Foxwell and Trevor Fitzsimmons. Romanowski led the team in innings pitched last season, and Fitzsimmons hopes to continue his dominance as a closer role. He led the team with 20 relief appearances last season.
The Mustangs return four of the five top hitters from last year’s team. Senior Craig Joseph, the team’s designated hitter, returns after a solid 2015 season. Joseph hit for a .328 average, drove in 26 RBIs and hit two home runs. Senior Ian Eberly moves back to the outfield after a season at first base. Eberly had 37 hits for a .327 average. Eberly commented on the experience of playing outfield saying, “I have played outfield before so the move isn’t that big of a deal. The thrill of throwing someone out from the outfield is one of the best in the game, so I am very excited to experience that again.”
Senior Nick Peifer moves from left field to shortstop in an effort to replace Troy Miller, a captain from last year’s team. “Troy was one of our best hitters, and he was easily our best defensive player. They are big shoes to fill, but I am ready for the challenge,” said Peifer, who led the team in doubles last season with 14 and finished with 27 RBIs and a .281 batting average.
Alvernia University, the defending MAC champion, received six first-place votes in the preseason poll. Widener was picked for second and Messiah third. Head coach Jason Tawney spoke about the team heading into this year picked to finish fourth in the pre-season polls.“Our team doesn’t get enough respect, but we are okay with that. I am confident with all of the guys in the locker room, and I believe in this team.” Tawney also said, “With that many guys coming back this year, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be up there at the top of the conference.”
In their season opener against Frostburg State University, Stevenson lost a close game by the score of 2-0 in 10 innings during play in North Carolina on Feb. 19. The following day, Stevenson lost another nailbiter, this one to Penn State Harrisburg, 11-10. In their third game of the weekend, the Mustangs lost 10-1 in six innings, again to Frostburg State in a rain-shortened game.
The Mustangs begin conference play on March 18 at Alvernia University. The Mustangs play against the Widener Lions, who ended their season in the conference tournament last year, on April 8. The Albright Lions will be the last team on the schedule before the potential conference tournament, if the season goes well.
Senior outfielder Kevin Wu made one thing clear: “We want to go out as MAC champs, and we believe we can do it.” The Mustangs will face Penn State Abington on Feb. 27 in a doubleheader at home (Park field) at noon and 3 p.m.