St. Joseph's looks to turn corner and reach A-10 postseason

St. Joseph's and Charlie Concannon
The St. Joseph’s baseball team had a somewhat disappointing 2017 season, going 12-12 in the Atlantic 10 and 21-25 overall while missing the conference championships. This season, they hope to turn things around.

With 11 freshmen, the Hawks are a young team, but with leadership from six seniors and two graduate students, they have a good chance at a winning season.

“This season, I absolutely think we can improve,” junior pitcher Tim Brennan said. “We have a lot of young guys, but there’s a lot of opportunities for them to step up and play some key innings for us.”

Brennan is set to have an impact as the team’s Friday pitcher, a slot he's held for the past two years. He also played in the Cape Cod League this past summer alongside teammate Deon Stafford who recently was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. According to head coach Fritz Hamburg, Brennan could see himself drafted this season.

The loss of Stafford, who would have been in his senior season as a catcher is a blow. St. Joe’s also lost nine seniors to graduation, so there are a lot of holes to fill in.

Sophomore James McConnan will fill the void in the catcher’s position with the confidence of his pitcher, Brennan. Stafford also served as a huge part of the offensive effort, ending his stint at St. Joe’s with 28 homers, just shy of the program record of 30 dingers. However, the team emphasizes the fact that although there are a lot of new faces, the talent is on the roster to succeed.

“Someone has to step up no matter if it’s a freshman, sophomore, junior and fill the void those seniors left because we need to live up to our expectations,” senior Marc Giacalone said.

Despite the loss of some key players, the team returns a lot of standouts as well.

The Hawks return senior infielder Dominic Cuoci who racked up 10 home runs and is tied for seventh-most in program history to lead the team in the 2017 season. Other players looking to carry the team include Giacalone, senior Matt Maul, junior Charlie Concannon, senior Justin Aungst and graduate student Ryan Kelly who sat out last season due to injury. According to Hamburg, these players will be “catalysts” for the group.

For Hamburg, who has served as head coach for the Hawks for 10 years and is the winningest coach in program history, the goal is, of course, to win the Atlantic 10 Championships as it is every year. After not making the playoffs at all last year, it’s important to gradually improve in order to get there.

“We’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the process,” Hamburg said. “We can’t win the A-10 championship today or tomorrow, so we have to keep working every day to be the best St. Joe’s baseball team we can be.”

The Hawks will begin their quest for the A-10 championship on Feb. 23 where they’ll open their season against Portland in Portland, Ore. Exactly one month later on March 23, the team will begin conference play at home against Saint Louis.
_____________________________________________
BY ALEX HARGRAVE
Contributor

No comments: