January 29, 2015
Baseball Opens 2015 Campaign on Saturday at Belmont Abbey
Catawba College is set to open its 2015 baseball season earlier than any other in the past. The Catawba Indians are set to throw its first pitch at 1 pm on Saturday, January 29 at Belmont Abbey. Catawba will open home play at Newman Park the next day with a doubleheader against Belmont Abbey at 1 pm.
Catawba and Belmont Abbey have met 76 previous times with the Indians holding a 53-23 edge in the series. The teams have split meetings the past two seasons with each team claiming a win on their home field. Catawba has won seven of the past 10 matchups. The Crusaders are coached by Chris Anderson, a 2001 Catawba graduate and former assistant coach for the Indians.
Coach Jim Gantt will lead the squad for his 19th season and is tasked with replacing most of its position players from last year. The bright spot will be with the pitching staff as Catawba returns the bulk of its starters and last year’s closer.
Conference and Southeast Region Pitcher of the Year, Craig Brooks, will anchor the starting staff. Brooks had a 12-3 record last year, posting the most wins in NCAA II. The senior allowed a mere 57 hits over 89 and a third innings with 104 strikeouts. Brooks finished with a 2.32 ERA.
Joining Brooks in the starting staff from last year are Shaefer Shepard and Marr Farmakis. Shepard was the South Atlantic Conference Freshman of the Year after going 7-3 with a 1.46 ERA. He fanned 57 over 67 and two-thirds innings while allowing just 51 hits. Farmakis went 2-0 with a 2.97 ERA in his first collegiate season. He delivered a six-hit shutout of #24 Georgia College at last year’s NCAA II regional.
Senior Ryan McClintock returns to solidify the back end of the bullpen. Last year, he was named first team all-conference and all-region after recording eight saves. McClintock went 4-0 and had a 2.20 ERA.
Along with junior Sean Grant, several newcomers will add depth to the staff. Freshman Connor Johnson could see time as a weekend starter, while Michael Elwell and Russ Weiker add lefty arms out of the pen.
In the outfield, Blake Houston will return to centerfield where he started all 55 games last season. The senior hit .323 with 73 hits and 59 runs scores. Among his hits were 11 doubles, four triples and four home runs. Houston collected 28 RBI and stole 19 bases in 22 tries.
Malaki Hanes will join Houston with one of the starting spots in the outfield. Hanes, a sophomore, was limited last season with a shoulder injury. He hit .316 over 24 games with a pair of home runs in 57 at bats. Several newcomers will vie for the third outfield spot.
The right side of the infield will likely see Dylan Richardson at shortstop and Brooks at third base when he is not pitching. Brooks was named All-SAC at short last year, hitting .336 with 10 doubles and 20 RBI. Richardson made 20 starts and had a .242 average and a pair of homers.
On the left side of the infield, freshman Chance Bowden is the front runner at first base. Freshmen Grayland Fowler and Kyle Smith should see time in the infield at second base and possibly at third when Brooks is pitching.
T.J. Wharton, who was an all-conference and all-region pick last year, will continue to split time at designated hitter and behind the plate. The senior hit .298 last year and led the team in both RBI (57) and home runs (10). Will Albertson, a transfer from Campbell, will also see action behind the plate and in the outfield.
Catawba will open conference play at Carson-Newman on February 6.
|No events scheduled until August 24|