JACKSON, Tenn. - The 2010 TranSouth Conference Preseason Baseball Poll has been released. The poll, as voted by the coaches, tabs Cumberland (Tenn.) University as the favorite to win the league. Cumberland received five first place votes, with Union (Tenn.) University coming in second with three first place votes.
On Tuesday, the NAIA also released their preseason rankings. Four TranSouth teams were listed among the nation's best. Cumberland is No. 19, while Union, Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) University and Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) University are all receiving votes in the national rankings.
The complete NAIA preseason rankings can be found at www.naia.org
Finishing off the TranSouth preseason poll is Trevecca Nazarene No. 3, Freed-Hardeman No. 4, Martin Methodist (Tenn.) College and Lyon (Ark.) College are tied at No. 5, Bethel (Tenn.) University is No. 7 and Mid-Continent (Ky.) University is No. 8.
In 2009, Cumberland won the TranSouth regular season title, while Union claimed the tournament championship. Both Union and Cumberland advanced to the NAIA National Tournament opening round with both teams posting 1-2 records.
2010 TranSouth Baseball Preseason Poll (as voted by the coaches)
No. School POINTS (1st Place Votes)
1. Cumberland University 59 (5)
2. Union University 56 (3)
3. Trevecca Nazarene 53
4. Freed-Hardeman 32
5. Martin Methodist 28
5. Lyon College 28
7. Bethel University 19
8. Mid-Continent 13
BETHEL UNIVERSITY WILDCATS
McKENZIE, Tenn. - Rusty Thompson (58-42) enters his 3rd season at the helm for the Bethel University Baseball program. The 2009 season, had its ups and downs in which 15 of the Wildcats losses were by two runs or less. Injuries to the pitching staff kept Bethel unstable as a unit. The Wildcat coaching staff worked hard on the recruiting trail adding much needed depth on the mound and in the field. The keys to the season will be consistency and staying healthy on the mound and at the plate. By doing so and continuing to work hard each day the coaching staff feels Bethel will compete for a title in the always tough TranSouth.
Johnathan Deberry OF SR .357,43 R,50 H,10 2B,18-19 SBA,6HR,29 RBI- 2nd Team All Tran South
Colby Fitzpatrick RHP R-JR 2009 Redshirt
Courtney Hardaway IF SR .331, 34 R, 42 H, 7 2B, 33 BB, 6 HR, 30 RBI
Billy Keck C/RHP SO .289, 11 R, 24 H, 2 HR, 14 RBI (2-2, 25 INN, 20 K)
Craig Massey IF R-SO 2009 Redshirt (2008-.382, 42 R, 60 H, 3 3B, 5 HR, 44 RBI)-1st Team Tran South
Jake Ramsey IF JR .337, 23 R, 33 H, 18 BB, 3 HR, 28 RBI
Andrew Maddox 3B .401, 30 R, 63 H, 10 2B, 9 HR, 50 RBI- First Team All Tran South
Johnathon Keck LHP/1B .326, 26 R, 47 H, 11, HR, 39 RBI (5-4, 81 K, 55.2 INN) -42nd Rd/Kansas City
Heath Sharp OF .381, 34 R, 53 H, 18 BB, 7 HR, 35 RBI
Turner Cripps LHP SO Goodpasture High School (Lambuth University)
Hunter DeBerry OF JR Hardin County High School (Columbia State C.C)
Rusty Edwards RHP JR Smyrna High School (Dyersburg St C.C)
Derek Hinson RHP JR Dyer County High School (Dyersburg State C.C)
Bryson Horner UT FR Dyersburg High School
Nick Purcell RHP JR Bartlett High School (Southwest TN C.C)
Tyler Roberson C/IF FR Dyer County High School
Jordan Smith RHP JR White House High School (Volunteer St C.C)
Shea Thomas IF FR Dyer County High School
Joey Wilder RHP FR Dyersburg High School
CUMBERLAND UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS
LEBANON, Tenn. - Longtime Cumberland head coach Woody Hunt enters his 29th season in 2010 after amassing more than 1,200 career victories and 25 conference championships, regular season and conference tournament. Hunt returns just three position starters and only three hurlers who worked in more than 20 innings last season, but the Bulldogs head into the campaign ranked 17th nationally and picked to repeat as champion of the TranSouth Conference.
Cumberland's strength this season could again be on the mound, where weekend starters and seniors Shawn Schaefer and Robert Post both return after combining for a 17-7 record in almost 170 innings of work with 147 strikeouts in 2009. Schaefer was the workhorse of the staff last season, tossing 88.0 innings with seven complete games in 13 appearances. Post struck out 78 in 78.1 innings with five complete games in 13 starts.
Senior Adam Sprague also returns to the mound after serving in both as both a starter and reliever last year. The lefthander struck out 48 in 60.1 innings, making a team-high 15 appearances and eight starts. His best work of the season may have been an eight-inning performance in the NAIA Regionals against Brescia Univ., giving up an unearned run on six hits with five strikeouts.
Newcomers Aaron Wilkerson, Peter Taraskevich and Daniel Kern should also see plenty of action for the Bulldogs. Wilkerson transferred from Panola Community College in Texas where he struck out 110 last season in a little less than 80 innings of work.
Taraskevich is a senior who last pitched at Nova Southeastern University in south Florida and has the unique ability to throw both lefthanded and righthanded. According to coaches, he has a plus curveball from the leftside and more velocity from the rightside.
Kern transferred from Broward Community College and will likely finish games for the Bulldogs, using his big-time slider as an out pitch.
Seniors Max Kautz, Sam Kikla and Matt Greener are the Bulldogs only returning positions starters for 2010. Kautz led the Bulldogs last season with a .417 batting average in 41 games with eight doubles, six home runs, 29 RBIs and 42 runs scored. He also stole eight bases and walked 19 times.
Greener started games at five different positions as well as designated hitter last year, but settled in at third base for the second half of the season. He with .344 with 13 doubles, four homers and 29 RBIs as well as 31 runs scored and 21 walks.
Kikla played both shortstop and second base last season as well as the outfield, and may begin the 2010 campaign at first base. He led the Bulldogs with 11 home runs, 52 RBIs, 44 runs scored and nine stolen bases while batting .349 with 11 doubles and 20 walks.
One newcomer who should play a big role is University of Kentucky transfer Troy Frazier, an outfielder and senior who hails from Louisville, Ky. Frazier batted .256 with five doubles, three home runs, 23 runs scored and 26 RBIs in just 90 at-bats in 2008, but saw his playing time diminish with a news coach last season when he played in just 25 contests.
David Fanshawe, another Broward CC product, should start the season behind the plate, with Greener at third and either Kikla or Calhoun Community College product Derrick Harwood at shortstop. Freshman Greg Appleton or transfer T.J. Murphy are fighting for the starting spot at second base, and whomever loses out at shortstop will likely start the year at first base.
In the outfield newcomer Kris Miller, a transfer from Lewis & Clark State and Panola CC who just enrolled in January, along with Frazier and Kautz should be in the lineup along with Jesse Bowman, a transfer from Volunteer State Community College who redshirted at CU last season.
FREED-HARDEMAN UNIVERSITY LIONS
HENDERSON, Tenn. - There will be a lot of new faces taking the field for the Freed-Hardeman Lions this season as well as a new face in the dugout. Or more accurately, an old face returning to a new role.
Former Lion pitcher Jonathan Estes begins his tenure as the program's head coach, replacing Patrick McCarthy who left for Faulkner (Ala.) University in April. Estes, who produced a storied career at FHU and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals following his senior season, spent four years at Harris-Stowe State (Mo.) University before returning to his alma mater.
His first season will bring a youth movement to Carnes Field with 17 freshmen and eight sophomores on the roster. The Lions also return only three position starters and one weekend pitcher from last season's 35-16 squad.
Senior outfielders Derek Bush and Noslen Labrada will, along with senior first baseman Brian Bullard, anchor the Freed-Hardeman lineup. Bush has been FHU's leading hitter over the last two seasons, hitting .364 with 119 hits in the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Last year he hit a career-high .368 with seven homeruns and 36 RBI. Likewise, Bullard had the best season of his career last year batting .329 with 11 homeruns and 47 RBI. Labrada was slowed by injuries but still managed to bat .336 with 26 RBI.
Catcher Garrett Ammons is the only other returning player to have seen significant action in 2009. Ammons, a senior, hit .264 in 53 AB with 14 RBI.
Working most of last season as the team's No. 2 starter, senior left-hander Carlos Pertuz will be called upon to move into the No. 1 role in 2010. Pertuz was 6-2 last year with a 5.12 ERA and struck out 64 batters in 63.1 innings pitched. Joey Gildea, Derek Williford and Trae Luttrell all saw time on the hill last season but Gildea and Williford may both be unavailable this year due to injury. Luttrell, a sophomore, posted a 1-1 record last season with 16 strikeouts in 14.1 innings.
The Lions open the season with a long home stand that begins on Feb. 12 against MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) University and runs through March 9.
LYON COLLEGE SCOTS
BATESVILLE, Ark. - A new era began for the Lyon College Scots baseball team last summer when long-time head baseball coach Kirk Kelley handed the head-coaching reins to former assistant Tony Roepcke for the 2010 season.
Kelley, Lyon's all-time leader in coaching victories with 525, had one of his best seasons in his final run at the helm of the Scots in 2009 and led the team to a 36-19 overall record and 12-9 record in the TranSouth Conference.
Two key position players - NAIA Honorable Mention All-American first baseman Sam Neal and Gold Glove centerfielder Nick D'Amico - and two starting pitchers were lost to graduation, but the cupboard was not left bare for Roepcke. The Scots' newly crowned head coach will have seven returning starters in his deck, including an pitching ace in the form of All-TranSouth conference pitcher Nick Salahub and all-conference performers Evan Segler (utility), Zac Wallace (outfielder) and Kyle Kallsnick (catcher). TranSouth gold glove shortstop Garry Richards also returns for the Scots.
In addition to Roepcke's returning starters, the first-year head coach also has a host of newcomers that could see immediate action or could make an impact during the course of the season. Transfers Evan Garris, a speedy outfielder formerly of Thomas University, and Wes Coleman, a right-handed pitcher, and freshmen Kody Pinson (Jonesboro, Ark.), Roger Glaude (Beebe, Ark.), Zack Malone (Pulaski, Tenn.) and Jim Gossett (Henderson, Texas) could all make significant contributions to the Scots' fortunes this season.
MARTIN METHODIST COLLEGE REDHAWKS
PULASKI, Tenn. - Coach Kelly Bratton returns to his Alma Mater this season to take over the reigns as the Martin Methodist College Head Baseball Coach. He takes over a program with some seasoned players already in place and also will have junior college transfers and freshman dotting the line-up. The RedHawks look to improve their record this season and have been working hard in the off-season to be competitive in the TranSouth Athletic Conference.
Outfield: This is our strongest area. We have good speed in the outfield and lots of depth. Darrin Holt will see a lot of playing time this year in center. We need Darrin to stay healthy and produce at the top of the order. He is the key bat in our line-up. New comers Chad Hunter a transfer from Walter State and Holden Killen a transfer from Columbia State will see a lot of playing time. Rudy Lyles, Drew Donnelly, and Seth Cunningham and Reno Capintog will also see playing time.
Infield: There are several Junior College transfer first Travis Garcia a third baseman and pitcher will hit up in our line-up. Garcia is a Columbia State transfer will carry a heavy load for the RedHawks this year. Jordan Hedges will see playing time for the RedHawks as well. Rob Laxson, Seth McConnell and Ben Bottoms will battle the shortstop position until one proves the job is his. Kris Ruderer will be our second baseman who also could see playing time at shortstop. Kris does a great job turning the double play and is a leader by example for the RedHawks. At first base we will have Kyle Bowers and Adam Stooksberry. Maybe two the best defensive first basemen in the conference. If they both are swinging the bats well one of the two will be our DH.
Catchers: Cody Pomeroy, Hector Lora, and Mike Gizewski will be behind the plate this year. Pomeroy a Transfer from Columbia State see most of the innings this year but will have to carry his weight offensively because Lora and Gizewski both had a good fall at the plate. We feel very comfortable with our catching staff.
Pitchers: This is the key to our SUCCESS! We need our pitching staff to go out and compete day in and day out. There are several new comers to the staff this year. Josh Spicer LHP from Volunteer State, Matt Fiser RHP from Columbia State, Brock Glass RHP from Columbia State, Travis Garcia transfer from Columbia State, Shane Murli LHP from Canada, and Blayze Parsons a local product. These pitchers will see a lot of innings this year. Cody McCanless, Brett Seagroatt, Jerry McMurtry, Rob Kurtz, Bryan Woodlee, and Joey Vance will be the veterans that where here last year. These guys will also see innings this year and know what to expect and what it takes to compete in the TranSouth Athletic Conference. With season ending injuries to senior pitcher P.J. Roper and Columbia State transfer Steven Dodson the rest of the staff will have to step up and take charge and lead the RedHawks into the season. They have worked hard this off season and we are expecting good things from this staff.
We are excited about the talent we have here! They must play as a team and do all the little things right for us to have a successful year.
MID-CONTINENT UNIVERSITY COUGARS
MAYFIELD, Ky. - When Mid-Continent University begins the 2010 season, one thing surely will be evident -- MCU head coach Shawn Yarbrough has seized the first real opportunity he has had to put together a recruiting class since coming to Mayfield in September, 2008. The first-base dugout will be full with 33 players, double the number of players who ended the 2009 season with MCU. And not only are the numbers greater, the pitching depth and overall team talent is vastly improved.
In his second season at Mid-Continent, Yarbrough, a widely-respected hitting instructor in the western Kentucky and Tennessee region, owner of Diamond Academy and scout for the Cincinnati Reds, along with assistant coaches Matt Smith and Tyler Pittman, have instituted a rigorous training regimen in preparation for the Cougars' season-opening, four-game series against College of the Ozarks (Missouri), Feb. 5-6, at Cougar Field, and the entire 56-game schedule.
MCU's talent base and depth has been vastly improved by the addition of 12 high school and 11 community college recruits plus sophomore left-handed pitcher Tyler Hall (Wingo, KY/Graves County HS), who transfers from Murray State University who is virtually recovered from fall elbow surgery.
Yarbrough says, "The Cougars will compete with the top teams in the TSAC and raise the opponents' perceptions of them with this team. This is a hungry team that wants to win, finish in the top four in the conference and play in the TSAC Tournament at Brooks Stadium in Paducah, May 10-13."
This recruiting classes mixes in well with seven returning players from a 17-41 team that went 4-12 in the TranSouth conference, and just three returning position players, including sophomore 1B Adam Connor (Murphysboro, IL/Murphysboro HS/Rend Lake CC, IL), who hit .297 and led MCU with 13 doubles and 37 RBI last season, junior 3B-SS Lance Davis (Paducah, KY/Heath HS), who hit .307 with 8 doubles, 16 RBI, 37 runs, and a team-high 19 stolen bases, and senior 1B-3B Steven Riley (Mayfield, KY/Graves County HS/Southeastern Illinois CC), who hit .273 with 7 doubles, 20 RBI and 31 runs.
Yarbrough and Pittman, the pitching coach, will select their starting pitchers from a deeper candidate pool than before with Hall, sophomore right-hander Jacob McMican (Marion, KY/Crittenden County HS/Three Rivers CC, MO), junior right-hander Kalip Merrill (Marion, IL/Marion HS/Southeastern Illinois CC), freshman left-hander Allen Haase (Boaz, KY/Lone Oak HS), redshirt sophomore right-hander Caleb Luttrell (Murphysboro, IL/Murphysboro HS/Southwestern Illinois CC), and sophomore right-hander Hunter Burge (Arlington, KY/Carlisle County HS/Southeastern Illinois CC) all seeking starting assignments.
In the bullpen, senior left-hander Josh Bowman (Toronto, Ontario, Canada/Wexford C.I.), who started eight times and appeared in 22 games last season, returns, and Riley may see some long-relief work along with Burge, freshman Cody Tellor (Anna, IL/Anna Jonesboro Comm. HS), and right-hander Sam Toby (Paducah, KY/Marshall County HS) will be asked to keep things in check and eat some innings.
Freshman right-hander Tyler Johnson (Gilbertsville, KY/Marshall County HS), sophomore left-hander Kyle Bugg (Mayfield, KY/St. Mary HS), sophomore left-hander Robert Thomas (Princeton, KY/Caldwell County HS/Three Rivers CC, MO), freshman right-hander Chris Foederer (Hickman, KY/Fulton County HS), and returning senior left-hander Perry Colley (Benton, KY/Marshall County HS) look to nail down the short relief assignments.
Junior Cory Bowling (Corydon, KY/Henderson County HS/Southeastern Illinois CC) brings college experience to the closer role, and when he is not available, Burge and freshman Sam Toby (Paducah, KY/Marshall County HS) are the likely closers.
Behind the plate handling the deep pitching corps is a youthful but talented trio of freshmen, Brantley Barrett (Benton, KY/Marshall County HS) and Alex Harper (Barlow, KY/Ballard Memorial HS) and hard-nosed redshirt Bennie Mullins (Princeton, KY/Caldwell County HS). Barrett "improves MCU offensively," notes Yarbrough, while Harper and Mullins are able back-ups during a long season.
At first base, Connor and Riley return after seeing much of the first base action last season. Riley also plays third base. Junior Ken Wagner (Okawville, IL/Okawville HS/Southeastern Illinois CC) is a powerful presence. When not playing first base, any one of the three can also fill in as designated hitter, along with returning Caleb Joost (Martin, TN/Westview HS/Obion County Central HS), MCU's leading pinch-hitter with a .333 average, 1 homer and 4 RBI last season, and freshman Josh Byrd (Paducah, KY/Lone Oak HS).
True freshman Joe Joe Simms (Springfield, KY/Washington County HS) takes over at second base for graduated four-year starter Daniel Williams. A high school shortstop, Simms played second base for his Shelbyville American Legion Post team last summer. "Joe Joe is a well-rounded player, strong offensively with power and consistency and doesn't strike out much," says Yarbrough.
Sophomore Daniel Edwards (Paducah, KY/Lone Oak HS/Rend Lake College, IL) moves in at shortstop and is a candidate to lead off a potent MCU attack. Last year's starting shortstop Lance Davis moves back to third base, his high school position. Junior Nathan Lawrence (Wickliffe, KY/Ballard Memorial HS/Southeastern Illinois CC), the probable starter in left field, backs up both left-side infield positions as needed. Davis also will see action at shortstop when required, and Steven Riley and Cory Bowling also may show their versatility with time at third base. Tyler Johnson will provide a solid power bat to the third base position.
With all three of MCU's starting outfielders completing their careers as seniors last season, the recruiting has paid off with eight new faces. Lawrence, Bowling and junior William Ruthven (Marked Tree, AR/Marked Tree HS/Three Rivers CC, MO) are penciled in from left-field around to right-field. The outfield anchor, Bowling possesses outstanding power, runs well for his size and packs what Yarbrough describes as a "fantastic" arm. Ruthven provides middle-of-the-line-up power and solid defense.
Junior William Brown (Carbondale, IL/Carbondale Community HS/Shawnee CC, IL) adds a strong left-handed bat and an outstanding arm to the line-up and can back up in left and right fields, and freshman center-fielder Cameron Kimball (Benton, KY/Marshall County HS) was described by Coach Yarbrough as MCU's "best defensive outfielder with natural outfield instincts and great routes to the ball."
Freshmen Erick Holt (Hickory, KY/Graves County HS) and Bill Schroeder (Paducah, KY/Reidland HS) round out the outfield corps for the Cougars.
TREVECCA NAZARENE UNIVERSITY TROJANS
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Trevecca baseball program has produced a consistently competitive team over the last seven years. Each of those teams has produced 35 wins or more and a winning conference record. One common denominator has been current head coach Jonathan Burton. First as a player then as an assistant and now in his second season as head coach. The program has produced TranSouth conference regular season and tournament championships. Now the team wants to take the next step into the NAIA National Championship Opening Round and NAIA World Series.
"We graduated 13 seniors last year which made this recruiting class one of the most challenging in my time at Trevecca," commented Burton. "The task wasn't easy, but we feel like this recruiting class has the necessary pieces to be very competitive again in the TranSouth and beyond. The entire team is working extremely hard and the continuity we have built, will translate into another successful season."
The pitching staff is strong again with NAIA First Team All-American Tim Dunn (Bardwell, Ky./Logan CC) leading the way. Dunn was the TranSouth Player of the Year and was undefeated as a junior. Jeff Hughes (Franklin, Tenn./Austin Peay) and Chris Sutherland (Nashville, Tenn./Overton HS) return as well.
Caleb Longshore (Cleveland, Ala./Jefferson St. CC), Blake Payton (Sylacauga, Ala./Central Ala. CC), BJ Boston (Mt. Juliet, Tenn./Jefferson St. CC), Michael Son (Vincennes, Ind./Vincennes University), Kyle Pfirrman (Hamilton, Ohio/UNC Charlotte), Jerry Young (Cincinnati, Ohio/Lipscomb University), and Codi Webb (College Grove, Tenn./Page HS) are newcomers and will round out a deep pitching staff.
"Our pitching staff is as deep as it has been since I arrived on the Hill as a player at Trevecca," commented Burton. "We will bring experienced arms into every key situation, which prepares us for success in those situations. Some of these guys were starters in their JUCO programs and now they will bolster our midweek games and perform out of the pen on the weekend. What's impressive is everyone is pushing each other and we've had some very competitive intra squad games and bullpen sessions."
Matt Tidwell (Dickson, Tenn./Jacksonville St.) is the only returner in the outfield, but is joined by several talented newcomers. Edwin Borbon (Dominican Republic/Chattanooga St.), Mark Hewitt (Bothell, Wash./Cypress College), Bret Grizzard (Hendersonville, Tenn./Vol St. CC), and Trae Weiss (Dickson, Tenn./Western Kentucky).
"This outfield group is talented and will be outstanding defensively," said coach Burton. "As they become familiar with each other over the early part of the season we'll see them become even more cohesive this Spring."
Chase Birdwell (Pegram, Tenn./Harpeth HS) and Trey Morrison (Nashville/Dyersburg St. CC) return as the foundation to a solid infield. Brad Gooch (Orlando, Fla./Lipscomb), Greg Casebier (Hopkinsville, Ky./Jefferson St. CC), Chad Reynolds (Santa Maria, Calif./Cuesta College), Chris Hale (Harpeth, Tenn./Columbia St. CC), Corey Crunk (Murfreesboro,Tenn./Riverdale HS), Jacobie Olin (Nashville, Tenn./Christ Presbyterian), Jackson Nichols (Nashville, Tenn./Christ Presbyterian), and Chad McDaniel (Hendersonville, Tenn. HS) will round out what is sure to be another outstanding Trevecca infield.
"We only return one player from last year's infield," commented Burton. "Still, due to our recruiting efforts, this is a very experienced infield with solid defensive skills. We feel like we have improved what was a very good infield last year."
Roger Vazquez (Puerto Rico/Odessa CC) has a great arm and a quick release. Luke Fennell (Franklin, Tenn./Centennial HS) is steady for a freshman. He improved daily and should mature quickly. Zach Sutton (Independence, Mo./Central Missouri) split time in the outfield this fall, but is comfortable behind the plate.
"Considering our loss behind the plate last year, this was our biggest need," said Burton. "We have a mix of both transfers and freshman that will fill that void. The freshman have been a pleasant surprise and will be expected along with our transfers to be consist contributors for our pitching staff."
The 2010 schedule has a total of 26 games against teams that made the NAIA Tournament last year, including 13 versus teams that reached the NAIA World Series.
In all, nine teams on the 2010 schedule appeared in the NAIA Tournament last season while four appeared in the NAIA World Series last year.
"Our schedule outside of conference is as demanding as it's ever been," Burton said. "We play some great teams that will allow us to evaluate our team and see what areas we need to improve on to make a run at winning the TranSouth. Before the first poll is released, we will have played 12 games against the top 11."
There are 18 games on the schedule versus teams that are ranked in the NAIA Preseason Top 25 and another 10 games versus teams receiving votes in the preseason poll.
The Trojans will open the season on the road at No. 4 Southern Tech in Marietta, Ga., February 12-13. The TranSouth portion of their schedule begins March 26-27 in McKenzie, Tenn., at Bethel University. The first home conference series is April 2-3 versus Mid-Continent University.
UNION UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS
JACKSON, Tenn. - The 2010 season for the Union University baseball program is starting with expectations higher that in recent years. The team is coming off a TranSouth Tournament Title and a trip to the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round. Union returns seven of eight starting position players with the only exception at the catcher position. Union also returns all three weekend starters from last season and the teams leading closer.
In addition to the standout returning class, Union head coach Brent Fronabarger has brought in a class of newcomers that brings with them several impressive resumes. Of the 25 man roster, nine new players will be added to the 16 players returning from last season.
The senior class is the largest class on the roster with eight players. Carl Harken and Grant Luke lead the way in their third seasons with the Bulldogs. Harken is the ace of the staff and is a two-time all-conference player. Luke post all-conference type numbers a year ago in a very competitive group of TranSouth outfielders. Josh Jones started last season in the designated hitter roll, but will move behind the plate as the No. 1 catcher to start the season. Brad Davis returns as a lefty pitcher that started weekend games and also pitched in relief in the conference.
Alex Turner is back as the starting second baseman after a very productive 2009 season. David Maristany returns as the starting third baseman and was named a second team all-conference performer last season. Derek Blackwood returns after serving as a valuable utility guy that can play all three outfield positions and also saw time as a designated hitter and pinch runner. Corey Rudolph returns as the starting right fielder and is one of the team's most complete players offensively, defensively and on the bases. Rudolph was a second team all-conference performer last season.
Union's junior class boasts seven players that includes four returning players and three newcomers. Kevin Kirksey is back for his third season at Union and has seen action as a first baseman and designated hitter, but really proved his worth as the team's most valuable closer down the stretch in Union's national tournament run. Ross Garrett also returns for his third year as a reliever on the Union staff. Andrew Haley is back for his second season after getting starts during conference weekends last season. Dan Beck is back for a second year with Union as an outfielder, but can also pitch. Beau Baker and Dustin Phelps begin their Union careers and will add depth on defense and pop in the lineup. Derek Copley is in his first year at Union and will compete for a weekend spot in the rotation.
The sophomore class has five players, with four of them back for a second season. Clint Barnes started last season in left field and played a key role in Union's postseason success. Danny Grimm returns as the starting shortstop and leadoff hitter. Cody Dew is back after getting key relief appearances in 2009. Jeremy Stack returns after an eight-win season on the mound as a freshman. Tim Anderson is the lone newcomer of the sophomore class and will back up the catcher position to start the season.
Five freshmen begin their college baseball careers this season, four of which will be mainly pitchers. Benjie Fesmire will serve as a pitcher and also be able to play second base for Union. Matt Daffin enters as another catcher. David Leisey, Jared Davis and Colin Hatch will be called on to contribute to the pitching staff in 2010.