The men’s baseball team added 19 members to the team, some of which are transfers from Division I according to Head Coach Lance Niekro.
There will be 25 home games for this season.
“I expect us to win a lot of games and go to the National Championship. I am really excited about this year,” Niekro said.
Niekro believes that the new members can contribute to the team.
“There is not only talent, but kind of new team chemistry,” Niekro said.
According to Niekro, pitching is the strength in the team.
Niekro tries not to make having a new team a weakness by getting everyone on “the same page.”
“A lot of these guys did not know anybody. It can be a strength, but also a weakness,” Niekro said.
Niekro does not think that the baseball team has another weakness.
This season’s main focus is team chemistry.
“We are going to work hard. You have to believe in yourself and believe in your teammate,” Niekro said.
Junior Kyle Richards supports team chemistry.
“Team chemistry is a big factor in how successful teams are,” Richards said. “I believe if we bring that to the field and focus on one game at a time the wins will take care of themselves and we will end up where we want to be, which is in the National Championship.”
In order to create that chemistry, Niekro looks for some specifics in recruitment.
“We find guys that not only have the talent, but are good teammates and have leadership mentality. We have guys that fall into that category,” Niekro said.
To Niekro the hardest part of being a coach is not inside the field, but outside.
“The biggest challenge has nothing to do with baseball. When you are on the road you are responsible for these guys. That is a challenge itself, to deal with a lot of daily basis,” Niekro said.
The hard work is worthwhile to Niekro.
“I love what I do. It’s a lot of fun. I am still getting used to it,” Niekro said.
This season’s rival will be Tampa.
“It’s just a tradition,” Niekro said.
Niekro believes that this season they will be able to defeat Tampa.
“The excitement, the tendency of the guys to bring everything in practice and their willingness to improve and do everything they can [makes him confident],” Niekro said.
Richard believes it will be a great season.
“We brought in a lot of talented guys to add to the talent we had last year,” Richards said. “We’ve all gotten to know each other really well in such a short period of time.”
The athletes that came back this year are seven position starters and six of the team’s top 10 pitchers from a year ago.
According to fscmocs.com the baseball team is sixth in Preseason SSC Coaches’ Poll. The coaches that participated in the poll were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Junior Keith Curcio
Junior Keith Curcio was named Second-Team Preseason NCBWA All-Region Selection according to fscmocs.com
The Sarasota native has also been named Preseason ABCA/CBN Preseason All-American.
Curcio was selected from returning athletes that play in Sunshine State, Gulf South and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conferences and several independent Division II schools.
According to fscmocs.com he earned the award because he has led his team in multiple offensive categories.
Curcio holds a record of 29 stolen bases, two triples, 60 hits and batting average of 0.349.
The record of 29 stolen bases that Curcio holds was second-best in the Sunshine State Conference.
Curcio has been recognized by the SSC since his sophomore year.
Photo courtesy of fscmocs.com