WEST FLORIDA ARGONAUTS (39-14)
If it wasn’t for DII baseball’s unrelenting regionals positioning which forces conferences to a region, UWF likely have spent the end of last season in Cary. However the Argos, despite being one of a handful of top ranked teams capable of winning the national title, were thrown into the stacked and ravenous South Regional where they forced a winner-take-all deciding game against home team Tampa. West Florida eventually fell to the eventual national champions and will have its work cut out for them if they are to challenge the Spartans once again. Many important arms and bats will be back in Pensacola and the roster will be restocked with new talent, but the question if the reload will keep the team in the national championship discussion remains to be seen.
The Argos will have back Kevin Peters who is third all-time in school history with a 2.34 ERA. After missing most of 2012 due to injury, Peters made the All-Gulf South Conference Second Team after posting a 3-1 record with a 1.29 ERA while limiting batters to a .215 batting average. Matt Vollenweider, who took over as the team’s relief ace will also be back in the bullpen. In his first season since transferring from Chattahoochee Valley Community College, Vollenweider made eighteen appearances out of the bullpen, led the team in saves and held opposition to a .212 average. At one time last season Vollenweider impressively came in to strike out the side in back-to-back games. Starter Dayan Rodriguez was hoped to be a breakout performer for the Argos last season and he did show signs of being the ace Head Coach Mike Jeffcoat needs on the staff. Rodriguez posted a 3.29 ERA and finished the season with a 5-1 record while only walking 16 batters in 54.2 innings. Jordan DeLorenzo, an All-Gulf South Conference selection pick as a freshman, had command issues last year, but could still emerge as a top pitcher in the Argos system. Lorenzod has been regarded as making tremendous strides during the off-season by the coaches. Incoming JUCO transfer hurler Dawson Brown has a high ceiling and should be a difference-maker from day one.
The UWF lineup will be led by the potent bat of Kaleb Brown. Brown batted .333 last season with 11 homeruns, 50 RBI and was one of the top second basemen in DII baseball. Aaron Haag played at Southeastern Louisiana in 2013 and has skyhigh offensive potential. The slugging first baseman who also plays outfield was a NYCBL All Star last summer and could be a force in the UWF lineup. Cliff Covington, who batted .305, stole nine bases in 11 attempts and won the region’s gold glove at first base will once again be in the middle of the Argo lineup, as will Austin Southall who can contribute both at the plate and on the mound. Southall started 2013 in the weekend rotation but injury limited him to four promising starts. Offensively he hit .272 with five homeruns. If he can blossom into the impact player coaches hope he can be, he could be one of the most dangerous and valuable players on the diamond.