Widener Baseball 2024
With a mix of seasoned players and enthusiastic newcomers, Widener head coach Kevin Burdick is optimistic about the upcoming season, aiming to nurture a positive rhythm as the campaign unfolds. 
The Pride (22-20, 15-9) made a noteworthy journey last year to the MAC Commonwealth semifinals, eventually falling to Alvernia. This year, the Pride project to finish fourth in the MAC Commonwealth, per the conference preseason coaches poll. 
"I think that's fair because I firmly believe we are one of the top four teams in this conference," affirmed Burdick. 
Key contributors to the team's optimism include senior pitcher Sean Curran (Upper Dublin, Pa./Upper Dublin), a 2023 MAC Commonwealth Second Team honoree, and sophomore pitcher Hayden O'Neill (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty), recognized on the 2023 Region 5 All-Region Third Team in his debut season. Senior catcher Nick Barenz (Potomac Falls, Va./Dominion) further fortifies the team, earning a 2023 MAC Commonwealth Honorable Mention. 
Curran posted a 3.93 ERA over 68 2/3 innings last season while starting 12 games and concluded with a 1.47 WHIP. O'Neill emerged as the ace, boasting a team-low 2.99 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. Senior right-hander Caleb Horner (Bunker Hill, W.Va./Musselman) enters as the No. 3 starter, eager to improve upon a challenging 2023 season (7.03 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, 39 2/3 innings). "Horner is looking to build off what he did last year," Burdick said. 
"He certainly has the stuff to compete at this level; now it's a matter of putting everything together." 
Turning the spotlight to promising newcomers, Burdick singles out freshman shortstop Kevin Bukowski from Central Bucks West (Doylestown, Pa.), emphasizing his potential impact around the diamond. 
"Both at the plate and in the field, this guy will make a difference for us," remarked Burdick. 
Another newcomer to watch is outfielder Jack Balcer, who attended the Tilton School in New Hampshire, played travel ball with Philadelphia Prime, and hails from Wayne, Pa. 
"We think these guys, Bukowski and Balcer, should be really good for us for four years," expressed Burdick. "Both of these guys have the skill to succeed at this level." Additionally, catcher Brendan Raven, a sophomore transfer from California University of Pennsylvania, is poised to make an impact early in the season and is expected to feature prominently in the lineup. 
The season kicks off for the Pride on Feb. 10 in Winchester, Va., with a doubleheader against Shenandoah. The following weekend presents formidable matchups against SUNY Cortland and Salisbury, boasting a combined winning percentage of 78.3% in 2023.
"I think another run in the conference tournament is certainly doable; we'll be there in the end," Burdick said. "The early portion of the schedule is rough by design to show these guys what we'll need to do for us to go deep in the postseason. 
"Now that we'll be playing some of the top teams in the country, it'll give our guys a chance to see what they need to do to get to the same level," concluded Burdick. 
To conclude February, the Pride faces Kean and Washington College on the road. The home opener on March 5 sees Swarthmore visiting Chester, marking the beginning of Widener's home games for the season.

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