After last season’s record-setting 41-18 record, the Billiken baseball team looks to continue their winning trend. To help them do this the team brings back all but two starters. Leading the way will be pitching aces Alex Alemann and Clay Smith (are these the two not coming back?), who posted a combined 2.73 ERA.
At the plate, the Billikens will be led by the bat of senior Alex Kelly, along with fellow seniors Grant Nelson and Steve Fernandez, who carried a combined .314 average throughout the season.
On the hill, Alemann and Smith will look to continue their dominance of opponents. They boasted a combined 14-4 record last year, leading the Bills to a record 41 wins. Along with this duo of starters, the Billikens will be bringing back Nick Bates who posted a 6-1 record last season after starting eight games and pitching in relief in 22 others. The team will miss the dominance of A-10 All-American Travis Parker, but seems more than poised to replace him with the arms at hand.
The offense will be led by Kelly, who looks to continue his dominance of opposing pitchers after posting a .326 average last season and scoring 43 runs on 75 hits. Assisting him will be Nelson, Fernandez and Mike Levine who among them totaled 186 hits and 109 runs with 89 RBIs last season. The Bills scored an amazing 44 runs in the second and 51 runs in the seventh innings of games last year while only allowing 18 (a 26-run differential) and 21 (30-run differential) runs, respectively.
Leading the defense will be two of the best double play starters in the Atlantic 10: second baseman Levine and shortstop Alec Sole. Levine assisted in 45 double plays while Sole was a part of 38. Sole set the single season record with 197 assists and Levine was two short of that with 195. Backing them will be senior infielder C.J. Rose, sophomore first baseman Mike Vigliarolo, and senior infielder Nelson. Rose recorded 300 putouts and went errorless on 319 attempts. Vigliarolo broke the freshman record last year with 293 putouts and earned a .997 fielding percentage with only one error. Although Nelson posted a .894 fielding percentage, he held the team’s third highest assist total with 103 assists.
Coach Darin Hendrickson is looking to improve his team from last year’s squad, pushing for an A-10 tournament title. Hendrickson currently holds a 492-227 record in the NCAA and a 157-127 record as he enters his sixth season as the Billikens coach.