West Chester Baseball
As the baseball season approaches, West Chester appears set for success with six returning position starters and four starting pitchers from last year's accomplished squad. 
 
Maintaining an impressive offensive lineup, the Golden Rams welcome back their top four hitters from the previous season, each boasting averages over .300. The lineup showcases the talents of catcher John DeMucci (Swarthmore, Pa./Msgr. Bonner & Prendie), outfielder Evan Profy (Croydon, Pa./Harry S. Truman), Joe Kaleck (Southampton, Pa./Neshaminy), and second baseman Zack Miles (Hatfield, Pa./North Penn). 
 
Key player Julian Costa (Mantua, N.J./Clearview), a left-handed two-way standout and the 2023 PSAC Rookie of the Year, is set to take the lead as the No. 1 starter for the club in 2024. Costa showcased his prowess on both ends, hitting .310 with two homers and 17 RBIs while posting a 5-1 record on the mound with a 2.35 ERA. 
 
Completing the starting staff are returning pitchers Joe Sperone (7-5, 4.05) and David Ferguson (7-3, 4.03), providing stability and experience. Additionally, Kyle Lazer, the 2022 closer who missed the previous season due to injury, returns to bolster the bullpen. 
 
Head coach Mike LaRosa expressed confidence in the team's improved pitching depth, addressing a concern from the previous season. "We have decent depth on the mound and believe we are better there," noted LaRosa. "That was our main issue last year; we lacked depth as we got late into things. Once we got past our top three or four guys, there was a bit of a dropoff. We've got a nice mix of new guys that I expect to be impactful, along with a solid core of returners." 
 
Adding excitement to the roster is newcomer Drew Simpson, representing Delaware Military Academy and hailing from Hockessin, Del. Simpson, a promising right-handed pitcher and third baseman, is anticipated to make a significant impact. Perfect Game ranked him as the third-best shortstop and the 15th-best overall prospect in Delaware from the class of 2023. He played a crucial role in guiding DMA to a state title, concluding his high school career with an impressive performance—a two-hit, one-run gem in the DIAA Baseball Final. 
 
"He's a really mature freshman, physically and mentally," praised LaRosa. "It looks like he'll earn that starting third base job for us, plus he'll be a great arm to come out of the bullpen. He's a really talented two-way guy." 
 
The Golden Rams earned recognition in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association (NCBWA) Atlantic Region Preseason Poll, securing the fourth spot. Additionally, the PSAC Preseason Coaches Poll predicts the club will finish in second place in the PSAC East Division. 
 
DeMucci (Swarthmore, Pa./Msgr. Bonner & Prendie) earned individual recognition, securing a position on the first-team All-Atlantic Region squad as announced by the NCBWA; this follows his honorable mention all-region designation in the previous spring, highlighting his consistent excellence on the field. DeMucci led West Chester in hitting with a .345 batting average, boasting a .923 OPS. His contributions included eight doubles, two triples, four home runs, 34 RBIs, and 39 runs scored. Displaying versatility, DeMucci successfully stole 18 bases in 20 attempts. 
 
Another local returnee is Gaetan Grandelli (Philadelphia, Pa./Roman Catholic), a redshirt junior who could become an impact player. "He was stuck behind some guys for his first two years, but he had a really good fall, and now he's one of those guys that could be an everyday player for us," explained LaRosa. 
 
With an overall record of 32-20 and a commendable 14-10 performance in the PSAC East last year, West Chester is well-positioned for another competitive season. The team secured a third-place finish in the regular-season standings and made a notable run to the PSAC Championship Game. 
 
"I like where we are right now as a program," LaRosa said. 
 
The Golden Rams boast an illustrious history, clinching the PSAC Eastern Division title seven times since rejoining the conference in 1997. The team has secured eight overall PSAC Championship titles, consistently showcasing their prowess within the conference. While the last conference championship was in 2016 and a division crown in 2018, LaRosa's program remains a perennial contender, finishing first or second in the PSAC East standings in seven of the last eight years. 
 
The 2024 season opens on the road at Glenville State on Feb. 23. The Golden Rams will face D'Youville and Charleston (W.Va.) over the next two days during the opening weekend of contests. Following a four-game round-robin tournament in Cary, N.C., at the DII Baseball Challenge, West Chester returns home for its opener at Serpico Stadium on March 6 against Jefferson.

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