Crusaders Prepare For Start Of 2005 Season

Nov. 10, 2004

It has only been a few weeks since the Holy Cross baseball team concluded their 2004 Fall Ball season, but the Crusaders (14-22-1, 9-12/4th PL last season), led by first year Head Coach Craig Najarian, have a lot of things to be excited about as they look forward to the 2005 campaign.

From early September through mid-October, the Crusaders matched up with the likes of talented Division II programs Franklin Pierce, Saint Anselm, and UMass-Lowell. They also hosted Division I ball clubs Hartford and UMASS-Amherst, and traveled to Brown University. Overall, Najarian and his new coaching staff, hitting coach Scott Loiseau and pitching coach Matt Weagle, saw many positives in their young team, especially in the pitching rotation. Freshmen C.J. Hillyer (Abington, Mass.), Matt O'Brien (Hingham, Mass.), Mike Thater (Danbury, Conn.), and Tim Thran (Fall River, Mass.) all had impressive starts for the Crusaders. "I was very pleased with our four freshmen pitchers," said Najarian. "We have several quality arms."

The Crusaders also have quality arms returning in four experienced sophomores. Mike Miller (Wayzata, MN), had a 4-2 record last season with a team-best 3.20 ERA. Scott Hampe (Dedham, Mass.), was 2-2 (3.81 ERA), and Matt Blake (Concord, NH), Rob Oteri (Sudbury, Mass.), and junior Jim McCloud (Medfield, Mass.) are also back. "The young guys will definitely get their share of innings. Nine of our 12 pitchers are underclassmen, but despite their youth, they are very talented and will give our rotation much-needed depth, which is without a doubt, one of our major strengths this year," Najarian said.

Najarian is also excited about the potential of the team's defense. "The depth we have at every position is strong, and part of our success this year will be determined by how consistent we play defensively," he said. "This season will be a good indication of where we will be in the next few years, so we are anxious to get out there and see how it translates on the field."

The Crusaders' top returners on the field include 2004 Second Team All-Patriot League second baseman Tucker Frawley (.988 FLD%, .328ba), team co-captain and 2003 Second Team All-Patriot League catcher Mike Marron (1.000 FLD%, .346ba), third baseman Mike Schell (.911 FLD%, .277ba), and centerfielder Tom Potvin (.991 FLD%, .264ba).

Offensively, the Crusaders will look to play 'small ball' in order to put runs on the board. "We want to be able to slash balls into the gaps, run the bases well, and focus on doing the little things," said Najarian.

Holy Cross starts its season the first week in March for eight games in Bradenton, Florida. The Crusaders will then travel to Albany on March 16, before hosting Assumption College in a 3:00 p.m. showdown at the Fitton Baseball Field on March 17.