The Mocs men’s baseball team is ready to repeat its success of last season’s 35-19 record that advanced them to the Championship round of the NCAA Division II South Regional Tournament.

Returning for the team are four position starters, three pitchers and 18 lettermen. Among the key returning starters include third baseman Chris Dennis, right fielder Dominic Brugnoni and starting pitcher Ben Richardson.

Athletic Director Pete Meyer believes that this team has the offense to compete, but a title will rely on the pitching staff.

“There’s enough talent on the team,” Meyer said. “You have had young guys come through the program such as Dominic Brugnoni who’s going to be a team leader and Chris Dennis who is one of the best hitters in the league so I expect both of those two to carry it offensively. He’s got some depth from transfers and if his pitching is there I expect the offense and defense to be there.”

Starting Pitcher Ben Richardson has been on the team since his freshmen year and is expected to lead a young staff, Richardson says he likes to lead by example.

“I’m pretty quiet when it comes to a group,” Richardson said. “But I like to lead by example, and always be there to help. More than anything I want people to follow my example.”

Head Coach Lance Niekro, a former major leaguer, believes this season will rely on team consistency.

“We want a team that buys into our goals. We want players on time, prepared and who don’t complain. If we have that I think we have the talent to succeed,” Niekro said.

The Mocs open the season Jan. 31 against the 2011 NCAA Division II champions University of West Florida. When it comes to facing tough teams so early in the season coach Niekro believes it can only help the team.

“I don’t mind scheduling tough teams early on because it helps the other team and us in preparation for the rest of the season.”

The Men’s baseball team has won national championships in 1975, 1985, 1995 and 2005. Meyer said the road to another title will not be easy.

“We have to get through the University of Tampa, Barry University, Lynn University, Nova Southeastern and the rest of the Sunshine State Conference is tough enough. This team and coach Niekro have high expectations. I can’t wait for this spring,” Meyer said.

Niekro is not worried about past history.

“I think it’s all just coincidental but I think we have some key pieces returning as well as new guys coming in as transfers and freshmen to step up for us,” Niekro said.

The Mocs open their home sechedule Feb. 10 against St. Leo at Henley Field.


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