A T L A N T I C
Expectations Are Sky-High for 2012 Hatters The Stetson University baseball program has been a model of consistency over the years under head coach Pete Dunn. The Hatters have advanced to 16 NCAA Regionals in his 32 years at the helm and have won eight Atlantic Sun Conference titles. Despite the rich history, optimism and expectation in the home clubhouse at Melching Field may very well be at an all-time high going into the 2012 campaign, and with good reason. The Hatters are coming off a 43-win season in 2011 – the best in a decade – and return the vast majority of position players and virtually the entire pitching staff. That group returns 42 of those 43 wins from last spring which, despite the incredible success, was a season filled with injuries to key players. Surrounding that pitching staff is a group of veteran players who are poised to perhaps take the Hatters further than any Stetson team has ever been. Like any coach, Dunn sees the areas where his team needs to improve to make that next step, and part of that step will come from finding steady replacements for the three starters the Hatters lost from last year. Those three starters – catcher Nick Rickles, left fielder Jeff Simpson and DH/outfielder Sean Emory – were vastly different in terms of their production on the diamond, but they were standouts in terms of the leadership they provided the Hatters, on and off the field. “We have most of the team back and, from a coaching standpoint, we were really a plus team last year with team chemistry,” Dunn said. “I think a lot of that was Simpson and Rickles. The thing we have to see quickly is how the chemistry of this team will compare without those two in the clubhouse and on the field.” That is not to say there aren’t candidates to take on the leadership mantel. The Hatters’ roster is bulging with 18 veteran players – seniors and juniors – who have been through the rigors of a long season with both positive and not so positive results to show for their efforts.
Returning Statistical Leaders Category Avg. (Min. 100 AB) Runs Hits Doubles Triples Home Runs RBI Slugging Stolen Bases Walks Hit by Pitch Starts Wins Innings Pitched ERA Strikeouts
No. .333 53 83 12 4 7 63 .481 17 29 13 15 9 83.2 1.40 64
Player Mark Jones Robert Crews Robert Crews three players Mark Jones Ben Carhart Ben Carhart Mark Jones Mark Jones Mark Jones Trey Blackman Will Dorsey Jake Boyd Will Dorsey Kurt Schluter Will Dorsey
S U N Three of those players – senior shortstop Mark Jones, junior pitcher Joe Dye and second baseman Robert Crews, who is in graduate school – have been selected as team captains for the 2012 season. Much of the leadership responsibility will fall to them. “All three have outstanding leadership qualities,” Dunn said. “Mark will be the more vocal of the three while Joe and Robert have that ‘blue collar’ approach and lead by example. “As good as Rickles was, and as hard as it’s going to be to replace him and his numbers, I believe that replacing Simpson and the intangibles he brought to the field every day might be our biggest challenge. He was a high energy, tightly-wound guy. He was a leader and I think this ball club, if we can find a guy who can adequately do those things, will be good.” One thing that should help the returning Hatters fill the team leadership roles is having everyone back at full strength for the start of the season. The 2011 team was nagged throughout the year by injuries that, with the exception of losing Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year Kurt Schluter for the final six weeks of the year, never reached the level of costing players significant playing time. Many of the injuries the Hatters suffered – numerous ankle or lower leg injuries, wrist injuries or pitchers who were hit by batted balls – have had plenty of time to heal. Only junior left-handed pitcher Austin Perez had an injury that rose to the level of requiring surgery, but he and the rest of the Hatters are expected at or near full strength by the time Stetson opens the season on February 17 against George Washington. With so much talent and experience returning, there aren’t many questions that need answering in the days leading up to the start of the season. The two most obvious issues are finding a replacement for Simpson in the leadoff spot in the batting order and settling on an every day left fielder. Here is a look at how the Hatters stack up for the 2012 season, and a look at who will be going to the mound on a regular basis. With few exceptions, the names will be very familiar to Stetson fans from last spring.
2012 Media Guide & Record Book
‘88 ‘89 ‘90 ‘00 ‘05 ‘06 ‘07 ‘11
C H A M P I O N S
Published on Feb 15, 2012