Thursday, February 13, 2014

Villanova: last year is the past; we're living in the future

By SAMUEL BOTWINICK | Staff Writer
February 13. 2014, 6:30 a.m.
@avdbkr20samuel

Tyler Sciacca was a star at Villanova, but he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs last June in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and his departure leaves a major void in the Wildcats lineup.

Senior outfielder Connor Jones admits it will not be easy, but he believes the program is in a good place.

"We'll miss Tyler definitely, but we have other guys in the lineup," Jones said.  "We got Beermann last year, who had six homers.  We got a bunch of other young guys that are probably going to step up too.  I see a lot in Todd from Kansas, and we got Adam Goss coming back too that should be strong at the top of the order."

Jones was referring to Max Beermann, the sophomore first baseman, who did not hit for a high average last year, but was able to club six bombs while driving in 19 runs in 54 games.  His average (.188) is not fully representative of his potential as a productive hitter.  He has room to improve and likely will with a year of experience at the  D1 level.

The other player who Jones mentioned as possibly having an offensive impact this year is highly-touted freshman infielder Todd Czinege, who was brought in from Kansas to be a productive force for the next several years for the Wildcats.

Villanova struggled last year and stumbled to a 14-40 mark and a last place finish in the Big East.

Coach Joe Godri attributed the bad record to the team's inexperience.

"In college sports, when you have older teams it helps," Godri said.  "It was just a very young team.  The year before, we had a good ball club.  We lost some guys to graduation.  We lost two guys to the draft.  Last year everything kind of caught up."

The Wildcats fared better on the road last year (7-15) than at home (6-21). Godri attributed the better road record to having less distractions when away from home. 

"When we're on the road, typically a road weekend, we're traveling Thursday," Godri said.  "We usually have a workout at the visiting park, maybe have a team dinner.  Then we get up in the morning, there was no school, so we're kind of getting right into our scouting report meetings.  With a young group, there was a lot of time spent just talking about the game of baseball, just talking about the things we had to do to get better. Maybe guys go to the park a little bit earlier and hit.  We just had more time to work with guys individually, mentally, and just for a younger group, they were better prepared when we got into the stadiums."    

Josh Harris, the ace junior left-handed pitcher (5-7, 3.75 ERA), was confident in himself and in the rest of the team about this upcoming year and like Jones he believes the club can improve over last year's lackluster results.  

"We had a great fall as a team," Harris said.  "A lot of guys showed that they're going to step up.  We've got a lot of good young pitchers that have come up, a lot of good position players.  The guys who are coming back, we're coming back with a chip on our shoulder.  We know that last year was a fluke, and we're ready to prove it."        

- The Philadelphia Baseball Review is the top baseball news blog in Philadelphia, providing news coverage and analysis of the 2014 Phillies and all things baseball in the Philadelphia-region.

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