13. CATAWBA INDIANS (45-17)
Final 2012 Ranking: 11
The Indians skirted the rankings much of last season, checking in and out following streaks of success and disappointment. Nonetheless, Catawba got hot when it mattered most. After going 23-4 in the SAC, the Indians fought their way to the Southeast Regional title where they earned their first appearance in the DII CWS. Incredibly they made their remarkable postseason run without SAC Co-Pitcher of the Year JJ Jankowski who was voted off the team prior to the extended season. Catawba went 2-2 in Cary with each of its games being decided by a single run. A return trip to the CWS is entirely in the realm of possibilities for Head Coach Jim Gantt. The Indians return several top hitters as well as a core of pitchers who will keep them in title contention.
Catawba has a pair of impressive batters in OF Ethan Satterfield and 2B Julio Zubillaga who each put up big numbers last season. Satterfield hit .400 for the season, also adding 17 stolen bases with a .481 on base percentage. Zubillaga was a crucial cog in Catawba’s solid defense at second base while adding a .343 batting average with only 11 strikeouts in 201 at bats (22nd toughest to strike out in nation). Also back is Chris Dula who led the team with 11 homeruns and was a perfect 19-19 in stolen bases. In 2011 Dula led the team with a .377 batting average as a freshman. Two transfers who are projected to make big impacts are athletic outfielder Paul Kronenfeld who transferred from Georgia Tech and Cameron Cockman from UNCW. Last season Kronenfeld played in 38 games for the Yellow Jackets, batting .303. Cockman batted .248 as the everday second base starter for the Seahawks in 2011 and spent much of the year as the led off hitter. Another player back is Blake Houston. Houston, who redshirted last season, started 46 of 55 games in 2011 as a freshman, stole 12 bases and batted .280.
The Indian ace will be Nick Lomascolo who complied a 9-3 record with 88 K’s in 103.2 innings with a 2.78 ERA. Lomascolo performed brilliantly in Cary, tossing 16.1 innings while only allowing three runs against two of the nation’s top DII teams. A large part of Catawba’s 2013 success could come down to how well versatile hurlers John Tuttle and Ross Whitley step to full time starting rotation roles. Tuttle saw action in 25 games in a dual role last season, earning a 3.35 ERA in 86 innings pitched. Whitley found himself on the mound in 23 games, finishing with an 8-3 record and 4.81 ERA with 61 K’s in 67.1 innings pitched. With their full time ascension into starting roles, it will be important for additional arms to develop at the back end of the bullpen.