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Lourdes Baseball Preview

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Lourdes baseball roster, schedule, and preseason preview are attached.  Let me know if you need any more information.

As Lourdes University takes to the diamond for the 2013 baseball season, the Gray Wolves look to show improvement from last year's inaugural season.  The Gray Wolves posted an 8-45 record overall and a 1-27 mark in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference in 2012, but return a great deal of experience for year two of the program's existence.  Head coach Andy Ham returns 21 players from last year's squad and has added 24 new faces for this year's campaign.

The key to success for Lourdes this season may lie in the pitching staff.  The Gray Wolves' hurlers posted a 9.24 earned run average last season, but with a year of experience under their belt, look to improve upon the number.  Frank Shaffer looks to anchor the rotation after tossing three complete games last season and earning two of the team's eight victories.  The right-hander logged a team-high 60.1 innings. Lee Lovejoy posted the team's best ERA one season ago and should earn one of the weekend starting spots while Drew Lepiarz will look to continue to show off his arm after striking out a team-high 32 hitters in his rookie season.  Kyle Vandecaveye should break into the weekend rotation as well for the Gray Wolves after making four starts last year.  During the midweek games, freshmen Jimmy O'Shea and Nathan Scanlan are expected to be handed the baseball.  The pair are two of 17 rookies that will be making their collegiate debuts this season. 

Matt Olsavsky and Jonathan Barker look to make their marks on the roster in the closer role this season.  The freshmen are a pair of local products coming off of successful prep careers and look for that to carry over with the Gray Wolves.  Sophomore transfer Sean Shanks along with Ryan Veres will also be used in short relief roles.  Veres shared the team lead in appearances on the hill.  In long relief, Danny Brodbeck, Nathan Hammer, Jim Dunnett, and J.D. Cuckler will all log innings for Lourdes.

Behind the plate, junior college transfer Ryan Kovar is expected to handle the majority of the catching duties after hitting .322 with 29 runs batted in at Cuyahoga Community College last season.  Mark Oehlers will also see time as a backstop after appearing in 17 games with the Gray Wolves during his rookie season.  Pat Magat, who started 43 games for Lourdes during his rookie season will also battle for time at the catching position.

Lourdes corner infield will see Josh Redies and Andy Kefalos battle for the starting first baseman's job.  Redies arrives on campus from Jackson Community College where he drove home 45 runs in two seasons and hit .408 as a freshman.  Kefalos saw action in 50 games last season, driving home a team-leading 23 runs.  Both players will also see time at designated hitter this year.  At third base, freshman Sam Jerome will battle with classmate Marty Ramirez for the starting job.  Tyler Trame will also be in the position battle after starting 47 games and batting .274 one season ago.

In the middle infield, John Crooks appears to have solidified the second base job.  The transfer has missed the last two seasons, but batted .376 during his sophomore year at Feather River and hit .294 for NCAA Division I Eastern Michigan as a freshman.  Austin Gunn should start at shortstop for the Gray Wolves after batting .252 one season ago.  Gunn finished second on the team with 19 runs scored in his rookie year.  Cody Berg will look to back up both middle infield positions during his freshman season.

The Gray Wolves open the season with a talented lineup in the outfield as well.  Tim DeCant will look to return to the diamond after missing the last two seasons.  He hit .392 with 43 RBI in 2010 at Owens Community College after batting .379 as a freshman.  Phill Dysard was the only Gray Wolf to start all 53 games during the team's inaugural season and led the team with 23 runs scored.  Garrett Jex hit .263 as a freshman and will also look to battle for an outfield position along with a pair of newcomers.  Sophomore Mike Calloway arrives at Lourdes from NCAA Division I Alabama A&M while freshman Cole Fitzgerald looks for his first taste of collegiate baseball during his freshman season.

Lourdes is set to open the season on February 15 and 16 with a four-game series at Pikeville in Kentucky and will play its first 17 games away from town before opening the home portion of the schedule on March 13 with a doubleheader against Goshen at Mercy Field.  WHAC play begins at home against Northwestern Ohio on March 20 and concludes on April 28 against Madonna with the top five teams in the league earning a berth in the conference tournament beginning May 1 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

With a year's worth of experience under the program's belt, Lourdes looks for a successful 2013 campaign.  The level of talent on the roster is high and the Gray Wolves hope that an offseason of workouts yields the expected results on the diamond this spring.

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