Widener Season Preview
Widener reached the MAC Commonwealth postseason tourney last year while completing their third consecutive winning campaign. The club will rely heavily on a potent offensive core to extend that streak in 2023. 

The Pride returns seven starters, including All-American outfielder Justin Costanzo, All-Region outfielder Anthony Boccio, and First-Team MAC All-Conference infielder Bryce Fremgen. 

Costanzo was named the MAC Commonwealth Player of the Year last season after he led the conference in home runs (14), on-base percentage (.534), slugging percentage (.792), and OPS (1.326). He also finished in the top five in the conference in RBIs (second with 45), batting average (fourth with .385), and runs scored (fifth with 48). 

"He's a presence in the box, for sure," said Widener head coach Kevin Burdick. "Teams learned last year that he's tough to pitch to because he does a good job of covering the zone. He also knows what he should go after and what he shouldn't, making him even more dangerous at the plate. 

"He's going to be relied on a lot. We need that power threat in our lineup. We have more speed in our lineup than last year, and Justin's power can help us capitalize on that." 

Joining Costanzo as vital pieces of the Widener offense are Boccio and Kyle Brex. 

Boccio led the Pride with a .409 batting average last year and collected 35 RBIs. He was also named First Team All-MAC Commonwealth. 

Brex hit .371 last year with a .508 on-base percentage to go along with 26 RBIs. He also walked 31 times while striking out only 11 times over 151 at-bats. 

"We have a lot of mature hitters and can rely on our offense, especially as our pitching works to get up to speed this year," Burdick said. "We have a lot of young guys that will pitch this year, and some other guys that just haven't had the chance, so it'll be nice if the offense can carry us a little bit." 

On the mound, Aidan O'Brien will be at the front of the Widener rotation to open the season. The sophomore left-hander posted a 7.45 ERA last season, but Burdick believes he's poised to improve based on his demeanor and a solid fall. 

"He has that bulldog mentality that you want in a pitcher," Burdick said. "He's ready for that task to anchor the staff. Him being able to step up into a leadership role is going to be huge for us." 

The Pride enters the season ranked third in the MAC Commonwealth Coaches' Preseason Poll. The club reached the MAC Commonwealth semifinals last season before being ousted by top-seeded Lebanon Valley. 

"The tournament taught us a lot," Burdick said. "I think the big thing for the returners is understanding all the hard work they had to put in back then and that it's just not going to happen again for them this year." 

Breakout Candidate 
Toby Hallman | LHP | Senior 
The Wyoming Area graduate finished 1-3 last year over 15 appearances while posting a 7.58 ERA. 

"His numbers last year really didn't dictate how good of a pitcher he was for us," Burdick said. "I expect those figures to be better this year." 

Newcomer to Watch 
Tyler Conlan | LHP | Freshman 
The Downington West product has solid stuff and likely will see time at the backend of the bullpen for the Pride. 

"He really impressed us in the fall, and we can't wait to get him out there and see how he can help us moving forward," Burdick said. 

The Schedule 
The Pride began their 2023 season on the road this past week with a win at Kean before dropping a doubleheader at No. 19 Shenandoah. The club returns to action on Saturday with a doubleheader against SUNY Cortland and host Salisbury. 

Widener opens the home portion of its schedule on March 3 against Washington College.
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