Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis
Immaculata baseball
Immaculata has a pair of returning stars and was tabbed to finish in the top spot of the Atlantic East Conference, setting the stage for another fantastic season for head coach Josh Copskey. The defending AEC champions are aiming for their third consecutive pennant and a third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. 

The Macs finished with an overall record of 29-13 last year, including a dominant 15-3 performance in Atlantic East Conference play. 

"The target stays on our back," Copskey said. "But this club is ready." 

The ace of the Immaculata rotation and one of the best arms in the region is senior pitcher Jason Hughes (Warminster, Pa./William Tennent). The right-hander showcased his prowess on the mound throughout the 2023 season, appearing in 15 games, including 12 starts. His exceptional campaign saw him etch his name in the annals of the program's history, smashing records for innings pitched (73.0), strikeouts in a season (101), and wins in a season (9). 

With an opponent's batting average of .202 and an impressive earned run average of 1.97, Hughes ranked as one of the best arms in Division III and was named Atlantic East Conference Pitcher of the Year for the second consecutive season. His stellar performance also earned him a spot on the D3 Baseball Second Team All-America roster. 

"You see it on the mound, but what you don't see is the work he puts in behind the scenes and in the weight room," Copskey said. "He's also such a humble guy; he doesn't let the moment get to him. He takes things pitch by pitch and doesn't get rattled." 

The other major star on the Macs is graduate student Josh Crowding (Mickleton, N.J.,/Kingsway Regional), a Third Team All-American honoree via D3 Baseball and the returning Atlantic East Conference Player of the Year. 

His contributions behind the plate were indispensable, as he appeared in and started 41 games while leading the team in various categories, including batting average (.415), hits (61), doubles (22), home runs (5), RBI (56), and slugging percentage (.680). Notably, his stellar performance set new single-season program records in hits, doubles, and RBI. 

"He really works hard, this year in particular, balancing graduate studies and baseball," Copskey said. "He's such a good athlete too, because normally your catcher position isn't usually your best athlete, but he is for us. "Some of the stuff he does you can't even teach." 

In addition to his skill at the plate, Crowding has proven to be one of the best defensive catchers in the region. He posted a .997 fielding percentage and threw out 10 of 19 potential base stealers last season. 

"He's got an incredible arm, and his athleticism really takes off back there," Copskey said. "That's why his defensive stats are so good because he can get to balls that others can't and make throws that your average catcher can't." 

In addition to Hughes and Crowding, the club returns left-hander Stephen DiBattista (Clifton Heights, Pa./Monsignor Bonner) for his graduate season. He earned Second Team All-Conference honors last year while posting a 2.28 ERA while working 67 innings. 

Infielder Joey Sacco (Steinert) also returns for his fifth season. The Hamilton, NJ. native was the Atlantic East Conference Tournament MVP last year and finished the year hitting .350 with 27 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. 

"It's an experienced team with great guys," Copskey said. "It should be another fun but challenging season." 

The Macs open the 2024 campaign with a doubleheader on Friday at Rutgers-Camden. The home portion of the schedule begins on Feb. 27 with a visit from Delaware Valley. The conference portion of the schedule starts March 22 with a visit to rival Marywood.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post
Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis