Susquehanna baseball head coach Denny Bowers '00 is entering his eighth year for the Orange & Maroon and is more than confident his players are ready and prepared for the upcoming 2013 season.
"We must be ready to play against some of the best teams in the region," Bowers said. "We have a main core of 12 to 13 players that will help us compete."
In fact, six of the first 10 opponents the Crusaders face are either nationally ranked or receiving votes in preseason polls. SU opens the season at No. 23 Shenandoah on Feb. 23 with a doubleheader at 1 p.m.
When SU travels to Ft. Pierce, Fla. for Spring Break at the Lawnwood Complex, the Crusaders will play No. 12 Keystone (March 9) as well as strong opponents in Misericordia (March 4), La Roche (March 4), PSU-Behrend (March 8) and Westminster (March 3).
SU plays at Neumann on March 14 and host a tough St. John Fisher team on March 22.
Their first conference series is on the road, at Merchant Marine from March 16-17.
The coaching staff has some new faces this season in Jimmy Gulden and Jerry Lloyd. Gulden comes to SU from Bucknell University and will work with the Crusader pitching staff as well as assisting in recruiting. Lloyd, a graduate of Bloomsburg University, will work primarily with the infielders.
The Crusaders' starting rotation will be composed primarily of four pitchers, beginning with sophomore righty Spencer Hotaling (Selinsgrove, Pa. / Selinsgrove Area), who was a relief pitcher last season and recorded two saves and 12 strikeouts in 18 innings of work.
Sophomore southpaw Casey Hood (Shrewsbury, Pa. / Susquehannock) went 3-1 with a 3.26 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 38.2 innings a year ago. Senior lefty Brian Wendig (West Chester, Pa. / Malvern Prep) pitched 40.2 innings and struck out 21 last season and sophomore Luc Kocher (Middlebury Center, Pa. / Elkland) pitched 41.2 innings and registered 24 strikeouts in 2012.
SU has a nice mix of veterans and newcomers in its bullpen, starting with junior closer Matt Smith (Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. / Wyoming Seminary), who last year recorded five saves and 13 strikeouts with a 1.80 ERA. Senior Pat Jennings (Essex Falls, N.J. / West Essex) and freshman Alex Branch (Sea Girt, N.J. / Manasquan) will be working out of the bullpen as well.
Seniors Nick Torkildsen (Milford, Pa. / Delaware Valley), Matt Roe (Freehold, N.J. / St. John Vianney) and Tyler Della Badia (Scotch Plains, N.J. / Scotch Plains-Fanwood) provide the Crusaders with plenty of experience as the three have combined for 67 career appearances.
Sophomores Ryan Lowe (Old Chatham, N.Y. / New Lebanon) and Mike Suttora (Fort Salonga, N.Y. / St. John the Baptist) are both solid competitors with Lowe possibly getting a spot start throughout the season.
This is a deep bunch of battery mates that will all compete for time behind the plate this season.
Freshman Rob Marcickiewicz (Red Bank, N.J. / Middletown South) is competing for a starting spot. Juniors Nick Testo (Mount Airy, Md. / Avalon) and Greg Stellon (Chadds Ford, Pa. / Tatnall School) along with sophomore Thomas Yamaguchi (Lincroft, N.J. / Middletown South) round out the catching corps as the three combined to appear in 50 contests in 2012.
Senior first baseman Nick Ferlise (Toms River, N.J. / Toms River North) had 32 hits, scored 18 runs and finished with 14 RBI in 2012. Junior Gregg Uhlak (Ocean Gate, N.J. / Central Regional), who played in 16 games last season and batted .300, will be in the conversationat first.
Sophomore Jared Musilli (Branchville, N.J. / High Point Regional) was fourth on the team last season with a .337 average and led the squad with a .440 on-base percentage and 18 walks. Musilli has speed on the bases as he stole 11 bags in 2012.
Sophomore Nick Kennedy (Brookeville, Md. /Good Council) will be battling for playing time as he had 20 hits and scored 18 runs in 33 games in his first season.
Senior Dan Wing (West Chester, Pa. / Unionville), who last year hit .309 with 38 hits, seven doubles and 19 RBI, will primarily play at the hot corner.
Newcomer Bryan Palsi (Brielle, N.J. / Manasquan) provides the Crusaders with great leadership at short while freshman Ryan Place (Berkeley Heights, N.J. / Governor Livingston) brings a great glove at third.
The outfield is led by junior Ty Raubenstine (Elizabethville, Pa. / Upper Dauphin Area) who last season was named Second-Team All-Landmark Conference. Raubenstine hit .387 with 58 hits, 30 runs, four triples, two homers, 23 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 2012.
Senior Ken Kayama [Koto-Ku, Japan / Solebury (Pa.)] will provide senior leadership for this group as he has played in 96 career games. He enters the year only 20 hits away from 100 for his career.
Sophomore Mike Rucereto (Washington Twp., N.J. / Bergen Catholic), who last year was behind the plate, was third on the team with a .338 batting average and a .494 slugging percentage.
Sophomore Kyle Semmel (Burlington Twp., N.J. / Holy Cross) is also in the mix. He played in 27 contests last season, recording two doubles and two triples. Semmel could occasionally see time at third base as well.
Freshmen Derek Tarconish (Middleport, Pa. / Pottsville Area), Garrett Pirollo (Chalfont, Pa. / Central Bucks South), Josh Cimino (Bel Air, Md. / C. Milton Wright) and Trevor Leitzel (Riverside, Pa. / Danville Area) round out this group.