Cougars Lineup Change Lands 24th DIII Ranking

Josh Horton, Reporter

The only difference between this year’s baseball team and last year’s Freedom Conference Championship team is pretty much everything.

Head Coach Pete Egbert said it’s nice that the team was recognized as the 24 best division III team in the nation, but he said there are many unknowns.

“It’s still very early to tell if we’re going to be that good,” Egbert said. “I have a huge concern that we lost 73 percent of our innings and we lost 48 percent of our at bats. So, you can’t replace that. You have to replace it, but I don’t know that the formula is necessarily that easy.”

In other words, Egbert is saying that there aren’t many guys on the roster who have had many college at bats or have thrown many college innings.

What the Cougars lack in experience, Egbert hopes to make up with athleticism. Part of the reason Egbert feels the program has been successful is its athletes. However, All-American outfielder Kenny Durling graduated. So he and his coaching staff are recruiting athletes. The Cougars may not hit the most home runs in the Freedom Conference, but that’s fine. Egbert would rather them lead the league in stolen bases or on-base percentage.

“From a recruiting standpoint, this is the direction we’ve gone. We’re trying to bring in athletes. Usually the athletes are high school shortstops or high school center fielders,” Egbert said. “Last year we had five kids on the field who were all high school short- stops. That gives you options, because you’re athletic. If you can play baseball, you can play baseball.”

Three guys who can definitely play baseball, and play baseball the way Egbert wants them to play baseball, are Julian Faria, Joe Tagliarini and Ryan Cacchioli. They are entering their senior year in the program and have been a vital part of the infield.

Cacchioli will be the team’s starting shortstop. He finished last season second on the team in batting average (.354), third in hits (54), and he led the team with 16 stolen bases. He played in 46 games last season.

Tagliarini appeared in 47 games and started 44 of them. He finished the season with a .301 batting average and a .429 on-base percentage. He also proved to be one of the league’s top first base- men by posting a .993 fielding per- centage and had just three errors in 406 chances.

“I’m definitely excited for my senior season,” Tagliarini said. “We have a good mixture of some guys who have been here a while and some freshman and sophomores that should be really good. How we do this season is going to depend on whether or not those guys step up.”

Faria returns behind the plate for the Cougars. He played in 40 games with 35 starts and was second on the team with 14 doubles, three home runs. Defensively he committed just four errors in 241 chances.

With Tagliarini and Cacchioli being the veterans on the team, Egbert is looking for some sopho- mores to fill the open spots in the infield. The Cougars are looking to Chris Boroch to be the team’s everyday second baseman. Egbert expects another sophomore, Kyle Lindsay, to take over at third. One of the biggest question marks for this year’s team is the outfield. As of late January, Egbert wasn’t sure what his outfield would look like when the team opens its season in mid-February.

“In the outfield we’re really young, and we really don’t know what we’re going to do yet,” Egbert said. “We’re going to mix and match in the outfield quite a bit and just see what happens.”

Mike Comerford, Nick Hair, Jeremy DeCotis, Zillur Rahim and Andy Bush are just a few guys in the mix for the outfield spots heading into the season. Egbert said he isn’t afraid to move guys around regardless of the position they played in high school.

“If you can catch, you can catch. Yeah, the position is different. Yeah, the ball comes off the bat differently. Yeah, you’re not as involved in the game, so there is some downtime,” Egbert said. “It’s more of a mental adjustment than anything else. If you’re athletic, that can make up for a lot.”

The team may have lost pitchers who threw the bulk of the innings last year, but the Cougars return Ryan Dorosh. Egbert expects Dorosh to be the team’s top pitcher who will get the bulk of the innings this season.

“Dorosh turned out to be a pretty good pitcher last year and we’re going to look to him to be our ace this year. Last year he had pretty much out pitched everyone, including (Evan Robaczewski). He’s a top of the line starter for this conference. After that, we got a ton of question marks.”

Egbert said he hasn’t started looking at other teams yet and he isn’t making comparisons. He ex- pects to see everyone’s best pitchers and knows every team will be trying to knock the Cougars off this year.

“Everyone is going to save their best guys for us and be geared up to play against us. We can’t take days off. We can’t just show up and win games, because we may be better talent wise,” Egbert said. “We’ve really got to prepare every single day and stress the impor- tance of that to our guys.”

With a high ranking comes high expectations. Although the roster may look different on paper, the Cougars still expect to compete at a high level and play deep into May. Egbert hopes his team will use the national ranking to boost their confidence, but he also wants to make sure it doesn’t make them overconfident.

“There’s a fine line between being confident and being cocky though. We have to caution against being overconfident and making sure they know while it is nice to get that recognition, we lost a ton,” Egbert said. “Are we that good? Probably not. We’re going to have to prove that we’re that good.”

The baseball team’s 2014 sched- ule includes: 3/14 DeSales University at 3:30, 3/15 at DeSales University at noon, 3/19 at Arcadia University at 4:00, 3/21 Manhattanville College at 3:30, 3/22 at Manhat- tanville College at 1:00, 3/25 at Moravian College at 4:00, 3/28 at Eastern University at 3:30, 3/29 Eastern University at noon, 4/1 Keystone College 3:30, 4/5 Fairleigh Dickinson University at noon, 4/8 Gwynedd Mercy College at 3:30, 4/9 Widener University at 3:30, 4/11 Delaware Valley College at 3:30, 4/17 Kings College at 3:00 4/25 Wilkes University at 3:30

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