High expectations set for RSU baseball in new season
Rogers State enters the 2011 season looking to build from a solid foundation laid from last season’s ball club team.
The Diamond Cats are coming back from a 30-21 record in 2010 and has assembled a powerful mixture of athleticism and versatility that could propel RSU further than ever before in program history.
Head Coach Ron Bradley’s club has a balance of 18 returners, eight of those who are pitchers and 19 newcomers including 11 pitchers. Nearly all of Bradley’s starting pitchers are back for another season.
Senior Grant Crosby is back for his fifth season and is expecting to lead the way for the pitching staff. The Fayetteville, Ark., native led RSU in wins, innings pitched, and strikeouts and holds the all-time record in pitching victories. Cosby took a medical red-shirt his freshman season.
Junior Tyler Garner and southpaws Jacob Wenaas and Casey Cassity are also looking to be major contributors in the pitching staff.
This year, the mound will show forth a talented pack of 11 new power arms that are expecting to hit 90 plus on the velocity scale, a special quality that will be a standout in the 2011 season.
Those arms include junior pitchers Zack Williams, Mario Mena, Freddy Soto and Matt Sample.
“We have a good mixture between left handing pitching and right handing pitching so we’re exciting about our pitching staff,” said Bradley. “We feel like it’s as strong as anyone in the country.”
But starting this season RSU pitchers could see a decrease in power hitting numbers. The NAIA has adapted the NCAA’s new batting standard that went into effect Jan. 1 of this year. The new standard came into place mainly due to increasing offensive performance rates over the past few years.
The goal is for the new bats to perform similarly as wooden bats in order to provide a better measure of bat performance. College ball clubs around the country may also see a decrease in performance numbers.
So Hillcat fans may see fewer home runs this season, but the Diamond Cats are equipped with a stronger combination of power hitters and speed that will look to steal a rising number of bases in 2011.
Behind the dish for the Cats will be returning catcher senior Joe Mandbodh and junior catcher Lance Rymel. Manbodh finished last season ranked No. 1 in the nation in fielding percentage.
Defensively, RSU’s coaching staff feels their infielders could be one of the best in the country.
“We have three or four shortstops that are able to play multiple positions, which I feel like is going to make us very versatile defensively,” added Bradley.
Among the infielders is junior Randy Ramirez who will play shortstop opening day for the Cats. The Bronx, NY native is a two year starter from Western Junior College and played in the NJCAA World Series in both seasons. In his sophomore season, Ramirez accumulated 64 runs, 73 hits, eight home runs while establishing a stolen base percentage of .926%.
“He’s experience, he’s athleticism should be something that should be seen on the field every day,” noted Bradley.
Not only is the coaching staff impressed with their team’s capabilities but also of the physically fitness and dedication displayed from their players. RSU baseball has high expectations set for the new season and are looking to be top a top competitor in the conference and a national contender.
The Cats will hit the diamond February 5-6 hosting Benedictine College in double-headers.
Photo by gssphotography.com
* For RSU baseball schedule go to rsuhillcats.com website
* For article and more information on the new bat standard go to ncaa.org website