17. SAINT LEO LIONS (35-14-1)

The Lions needed an impressive close to their 2013 regular season if they were going to receive an at large bid to the NCAAs. The green and gold did their part, impressively tallying double-digit runs in their last five games and outscoring Florida Southern 33-6 in their regular season finale; however it wasn’t deemed quite good enough and the Lions were left at home for the extended postseason. This season the Lions are planning on taking fate into their own hands and leaving little doubt they deserve to advance to the South Regional. A solid core of everyday starters and impressive pitchers should keep St. Leo from being on the outside looking in when the NCAA pairings are announced.

St. Leo's Cole Stancil

St. Leo’s Cole Stancil

The offense looks solid with outfielders Bobby Twitty and Cole Stancil back in the lineup. Twitty batted .317 last season and was an honorable mention All-SSC performer after finishing second on the team in doubles, home runs and RBI. Stancil excelled in part-time action as a freshman last season, batting .344 in limited at bats. Coaches feel Twitty, along with Stancil both have the potential to be big time performers and should garnish consideration for the Tino Martinez Award for DII Baseball Player of the Year. Another top performer for the Lions offensively is utility player Fran Whitten. Whitten, has a strong left handed bat and can also provide valuable innings on the mound.  Last season Whitten played for Maine where he hit .297 and slugged .446. Coach Sean O’ Connor also added DI transfer Joel McKeithan from Vanderbilt who could also pay quick dividends offensively.

On the mound the Lions have a very talented duo of Michael Dunnigan and Brent Krauss returning. Dunnigan had a 2.72 ERA and a perfect 7-0 record in a dual starter/reliever role. Krauss finished with a 2.73 ERA and fanned 64 batters in 62.2 innings pitched. Both were extremely effective on the mound, as they held opposition to .217 and .220 batting averages respectively.  Brandon Terry also has the potential to be a big time performer for the up-and-coming Lions. The senior led the team with 9.79 strikeouts-per-game last season and was the club’s go-to arm out of the bullpen. Ryan Sadler, who missed last season, will also be back for the Lions in 2014.  The big 6’6” lefty has the ability to fan a batter at any time and should be a force in the Lion’s rotation.  Also look for Rhode Island transfer, Liam O’Sullivan to provide excellent innings for the team as well.