SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE PENMEN (35-19)
Since taking over as head coach of the Penmen in 2009, Scott Loiseau has brought the team from the depths of the conference standings to being one of the nation’s elite teams. Before Loiseau arrived SNHU hadn’t put together a winning season since 1997 and during that stretch the Penmen suffered through five single-digit win seasons. He has transformed the team into a teaching clinic with hurlers becoming MLB prospects. In 2012 Tim Flight was a finalist for the Tino Martinez Award before being drafted by the Yankees and last season three SNHU hurlers were selected in the MLB draft. It was the strength of the pitching that led the school to the DII Championships in 2012 and it will be the staff once again that could take them there in 2014.
With Junior Mendez and Alex Powers now playing professionally, the top arm on the SNHU staff belongs to Derrick Sylveter. The lengthy 6’6” starter broke out in a big way last season, dropping his ERA from a robust 5.19 to a petite 1.34. He fanned 71 batters in 73.2 innings while only issuing 18 walks. He will be rejoined on the staff by Joe McCarty who was named to the Northeast-10 Conference All Rookie team after debuting with a 2.52 ERA in 11 appearances while he held opposition to a .207 batting average and stuck out 25 batters in 25 innings. Stephen Fortuna, who hopefully isn’t related to Jabba the Hutt’s majordomo, Bib Fortuna, appeared in eight games last season as a freshman. He looked promising in those appearances, compiling 19 innings with 16 strikeouts with a 3.32 ERA. Another arm back in Manchester is David Gibson. The senior hurler will be looking to finish his collegiate career with his best stats yet. Last season he recorded 29 strikeouts in 20 innings while only allowing eight hits. New to the SNHU staff will be Rhode Island transfer Cole Warren. Warren only allowed two hits in 7.2 innings pitched last season for the Rams, although he did walk eight.
While the offense hasn’t been the team’s focal point, there are some potent angry sticks back to help the team score runs. Brendan O’Brien, who hit .286 in the wood bat conference, was second on the team in hitting and stole 40 bases in 43 attempts. Riley Palmer had five triples and five home runs and paced the team in RBI. Al Stanton and Tyler Fortanascio are another pair of batters back help the team obtain its third consecutive NCAA appearance. Both had glimpses of being big time performers last season. Manny Cruz and Carson Helms are a pair of incoming offensive players who coaches believe could be immediate contributors this season. Cruz was drafted by the Reds out of high school but opted to play shortstop for the Penmen instead. Helms never quite found his niche at Virginia Tech in two years with the Hokies. The sophomore outfielder redshirted last season and should be comfortable playing back in his home state of New Hampshire where he was an all-state, all-conference and a Top 10 New England player.