Kyle Brex leads the Widener offense
Kyle Brex hit .388 last season for Widener.  |  Photo: Widener Athletics
Kevin Burdick guided Widener to a winning record last season and a spot in the MAC Commonwealth quarterfinals, so it's only fitting that he's entering 2022 with the interim tag being a thing of the past. 

The Pride return some solid talent from last year's club, including graduate student outfielder Brandon Reis and juniors Anthony Boccio (outfield) and Kyle Brex (infield). The lone offensive starter not returning is graduated infielder Greg Elfreth. 

"It's great to be in this spot, with so many guys returning," Burdick said. "It's a very talented lineup, and the big thing is just how competitive they are with each other." 

Reis (La Salle) hit .316 while finishing second on the club with 20 RBI's while Boccio (Coatesville) and Brex are juggernauts atop the Pride lineup, combing for a career .381 average. Boccio led the team with 77 total bases a year ago and finished with 14 doubles, six triples, and four homers. He also drove in a team-best 31 RBIs. 

"Boccio is the most complete hitter in our conference, plus [junior infielder] Bryce Fremgen is an outstanding guy in the cleanup spot with power and an understanding of the strike zone," Burdick said.

"Brex is one of those guys that was overlooked, and I don't know how you get him out. He's just undersized. If he was 6-foot-1 he'd be playing at some powerhouse like Vanderbilt, he's that gifted, and it feels like Reis has been here since Widener was created. He's like the dad that no one wants to disappoint. He's keeping everything organized, and I don't know where we would be as a program without him." 

Every offensive starter hit above .300 last season, and the .314 overall team average was the third-best mark in the MAC. 

"This lineup is pretty stacked, and it's deep," Burdick said. "There's really no weak spots." 

The Pride graduated a pair of stud hurlers in Dylan Peiffer and Joey Zettlemoyer, so it'll be senior Joey Norton and a trio of freshmen arms in righty Zachary Coluccio and left-handers Sean Davis and Aidan O'Brien leading the staff. 

Coluccio is a dual-sport athlete at Widener as the kicker for the football team, and O'Brien was a standout wrestler at Salesianum High School in Wilmington. Burdick believes the non-baseball experience provides a competitive advantage, especially while on the mound. 

"You need to be able to play multiple sports," Burdick said. "You learn different things from it. You learn to compete, and you learn the team aspect, especially in sports like football and wrestling where there's nobody there to save you. We ask that question very early on in the recruiting process about playing multiple sports, and we aim for those guys because we know how hard they can work." 

Norton made ten appearances last season in relief for the Pride, finishing 2-1 with a 5.68 ERA. 

"He was an impact player for us the minute he arrived on campus," Burdick said. "What he's been able to do is really convey the importance of being in the moment and not taking anything for granted. He's like an alpha in that group. He's showing you the work ethic that it takes to be successful. He knows this is his last year, and he is everything you want in a leader." 

Widener opened the 2022 season with a 6-5 loss on Thursday at Kean. The club will head back on the road for a doubleheader on Saturday at Shenandoah before visiting top-ranked Salisbury next weekend.

"We're ready for the challenge," Burdick said.

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