27. FRANKLIN PIERCE RAVENS (37-19)

FRANKLIN PIERCE RAVENS (37-19)
The Ravens were an enigmatic bunch last year who could both win and lose games in bunches. Fortunately for the Ravens they played some of their best ball at the end of the season when they earned another opportunity to play for the DII Championship in Cary. FPU received an at large bid to play in the East Regional and clawed their way to advance to the final eight. Alas the Ravens went 1-2 in North Carolina to have their season end a shy of their ultimate goal of a national title. The Ravens do have some roster replenishing to accomplish before taking to the diamond in 2014. The program had four players in the first sixteen rounds of the MLB draft and other valuable members of the team have moved on as well. Nevertheless, Head Coach Jayson King has been putting FPU success on and another trip south for the spring is always a possibility for the purple and black attack from New Hampshire.

As has become tradition in Rindge, the heart of the FPU baseball team will be its pitching staff. Joseph Flynn and Ryan Leach have two of the most dominating arms in the region. Flynn missed most of the past two seasons due to injury, but did came off of Tommy John surgery to help the Ravens in 11 relief appearances on the mound last season. He recorded a save in five of those opportunities. Leach finished last season in the top fifteen in strikeouts per nine innings, fanning 80 batters in 66 innings. He concluded the season with a 6-4 record and a 3.41 role in a mixed starter and reliever role. Either Flynn or Leach could be another name added to a long list of accomplished FPU hurlers.  Doug Wiley and Paul Covelle each appear to have top shelf stuff as well. Wiley had four saves and a 2.45 ERA in twenty appearances and Covelle had a 1.76 ERA while holding opposition to a .208 batting average. Other pitchers who will be integral to the Ravens’ postseason success are Rob Corsi, a transfer from Rutgers, Conor Gleason who comes to FPU via the Community College and Rhode Island and incoming freshman Evan Honce. Corsi lead Rutgers with six saves last season and pitched 56.1 innings fro the Scarlet Knights. Gleason was a first team All-New England selection and was the saves leader for the Mystic Schooners of the NECBL. Honce boasts three good pitches and can bring the ball into the 90’s.

The lineup for Franklin Pierce will need some help if the team is going to challenge nationally. The speedy Calvin Graves has been a favorite of Coach King but he hasn’t broken through to the upper level as anticipated, at least not yet. In 2012 Graves was second in the NE-10 in batting at .373 with 25 stolen bases; however last season his average dropped over 100 points to finish at .267 Graves still has the speed to be deadly on the base paths as he again totaled 26 swipes, but he need to get on more often to be the spark the team needs. Matt Walsh is another player who has the potential to big a big time producer but dropped off a bit last season. After batting .329 as a freshman and earning the NE-10 Rookie of the Year honors as well as a plethora of other awards, Walsh hit just .259 last season. Nonetheless, Walsh’s ability could make him a draft pick by the end of the season and he did impress in the Cape Cod League over the summer. An uptick in the production of Justin Brock, a second basemen who led the team with five triples and stole 23 bases as a freshman, could also be breakout performer for the Ravens.