Panthers looking to be competitive in Little East Conference in 2016
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University Baseball team has a diverse mix of upperclassmen and newcomers added to its 2016 roster, setting up what should be an improved season in 2016. The 2015 season came to a close a little earlier than hoped for the Panthers, narrowly missing the LEC playoffs by 1 game. The 2016 squad, led by 1st year Head Coach Clay Jenkins, is looking to change that.
"We have a valuable mix of tenured upperclassmen, who blend nicely with the large amount of newcomers we have added to our roster for 2016," said Jenkins. The Panthers return the majority of both their offense and pitching staff, and will see key newcomers fill the necessary voids. "Although we lost a few of our key players from last season, we have ready-to-play transfers who have already obtained collegiate experience. The transition into the LEC is always extreme, but far more manageable for players who have seen collegiate pitching already. We're also blessed to have many freshmen who have played at extremely high levels, which allows for the transition for them to be less extreme," said Jenkins.
With depth at every position, the Panther pitching staff and defense will likely keep the Panthers in every game this season. Coach Jenkins states that "we know we have a deep pitching staff, with high octane front-end guys. We also have extremely solid defense, specifically in the infield and behind the plate." The combination of high quality pitching and limiting defensive mistakes is likely to be a recipe for success for the 2016 Panthers.
In addition, the 2016 Panther offense is being re-built both physically and mentally. Jenkins says, "There are 2 or 3 transfers and 2 or 3 freshman who we expect to crack the starting lineup right away. They all bring unique skillsets that make our lineup hard to pitch to, 1 through 9." The strategy for their offense is fast-paced and aggressive. "Coach's McIntosh and Cox are doing an incredible job working with our offense. They are focusing on educating our players to have sound approaches while at the plate, as well as aggressive mindsets on the base-paths," says Jenkins.
The Panther pitching staff is deep and ready for the 2016 season. With top-end returners in graduate student Cody Gilchrist and senior Matti Doxter, the Panther staff will have strong leadership. Other returners expected to pitch key innings this year include sophomore Ryan Perro and junior lefty Connor MacRae. Dallas Defrancesco and Nolan Flynn round out the returners, and have both made big improvements in the offseason.
With many newcomers to the pitching staff, captain Cody Gilchrist and Coach Jenkins will be working hard to get them prepared for the fast-paced LEC. Transfers David Sampson (SNHU), Taylor Doyle (Franklin Pierce), James Garnett (CCRI), Brady Larson (Sacred Heart) and Kyle McCarthy (Hartford/St. A's) will all play a variety of important roles for the Panther staff. Also expecting to pitch significant innings are freshman Cameron Cossette and Sean Engel. Freshman Dylan Gaita, Alex Libby, Troy Micale and Jacob Sheinman will compete for innings and round out the Panther pitching staff.
"Our pitchers will be smart and effective this year" says Jenkins. "They work very hard on throwing strikes, keeping runners close and learning the craft of pitching." The Panthers have lead the LEC in runners picked off and stolen bases against for the last 2 years; a testament to their level of education and understanding the value in being well-rounded.
Seniors Jake Broom and David Hall, along with Junior Jarek Krajewski, will likely be the lone returners who saw majority playing time last season. All 3 had successful 2015 campaigns, and look to build off of their competitive summer ventures. Broom will hold down the leadoff spot while patrolling LF and infield, while Hall and Krajewski will hit in the 3 and 4 holes while playing the corner infield positions. Sophomore Cam Ruziak will lead a young, but strong catching core, hitting 9th and keeping runners at bay with his strong defense. Sophomore Luke Mancini will patrol CF and use his athleticism to add value to the Panther offense and defense. Other returners looking to compete for playing time include senior outfielders Mike Laflamme and Justin Walsh, as well as junior infielder Eric Leitch.
Strong necomers will round out the Panther offense. Sophomore transfers Nate Frederick (Anna Maria) and Mike Bailey (Franklin Pierce) will likely be in the opening day roster at 2B and DH respectively. Junior transfer James Garnett (CCRI) will play RF and hit in the heart of the Panther order. Freshman Matt Decina will likely get the nod to open the season at SS, competing with NHTI transfer Mitch Sytulek. Freshmen utility player Josh Goulet and catcher Mike Ryan will likely be first off the bench for the Panther lineup, if not crack the starting lineup. Freshman Chris Mansour and Zack Byers round out a deep catching staff.
"We have an extremely talented team this year, and there is no doubt that we are working as hard as any team out there. The combination of those two things, mixed with the level of education our players are receiving, is a recipe for success in 2016" says Jenkins.
(Courtesy of PSU Baseball Coaching Staff)
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