Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis
Saint Joseph's baseball preview 2020
Three years removed from their last Atlantic 10 conference tournament appearance, Saint Joseph's head coach Fritz Hamburg believes his club is poised to break the drought in 2020.

Despite finishing 13-11 in conference play (21-28 overall) last year, the Hawks were inconsistent - combining for six streaks throughout the season of at least three wins or three losses.

This year, Hamburg and Co. are relying on experience and maturity to propel the Hawks to a potential playoff berth in the Atlantic 10.

"The challenge we had last year was our pitching," Hamburg said. "We were thin on the mound, and we were asking a lot from the guys we had. Some of those guys pitched a lot more innings then they were ready for."

The Hawks' pitching staff posted a 5.34 ERA on the year, the ninth-worst figure in the Atlantic 10. The most reliable arm was junior right-hander Cole Stetzar who posted a 2.92 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP over 22 appearances, mainly out of the bullpen.

Joining Stetzar this season as a leader on the pitching staff is senior right-hander Jordan DiValerio who posted a 3.80 ERA last year to go along with 67 strikeouts over 12 starts. He'll be slotted at the front of the Hawks' rotation.

"To have a guy who had the year Jordan did last year coming back, it's huge for us," Hamburg said. "He had a good summer up in New England and I think he's one of the best arms in the Atlantic-10, so to know you have that on Friday is really important."

Among several newcomers to the staff, junior right-hander Noah Weber stands out as a transfer from Northampton Community College where he earned First Team All-American honors last year after posting a 9-1 mark to go along with a 1.61 ERA. He notched 57 strikeouts while issuing just seven walks over 78 1/3 innings.

At the plate, the Hawks return an impressive core with sophomore Andrew Cossetti, junior Brendan Hueth, and senior James McConnon.

Cossetti, a La Salle High graduate, led the Hawks with eight homers and 42 RBIs while posting a .404 on-base percentage and was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team.

"He was hitting in the middle of the order as a freshman," Hamburg said. "It's now a matter of taking advantage of what he learned last year and building off that. Every year that you have experience returning you're looking to build on the previous year," Hamburg said.

McConnon led the Hawks with a .416 on-base percentage and Hueth hit .308 to go along with 24 stolen bases.

"It's a solid nucleus, for sure." Hamburg said.

The Hawks will open the season in Port Charlotte, Florida, on Friday, February 14, with contests against Ohio State and Pitt as part of the Snowbird Classic. The opening weekend wraps up with contests against Iowa and Kent State on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The matchup against Iowa is set for CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla., the new spring training home of the Atlanta Braves.

The Hawks open the home portion of their schedule on Tuesday, March 3, with a contest against  non-conference opponent Rutgers.

"We're a much stronger and deeper team," Hamburg said. "We see things now daily, it's just a matter of seeing them in a game setting. With the experience we have and with the nucleus we have, I think this team could be a lot tougher than what some people may think."
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

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