Baseball Returns Key Players For Season Start

Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

The baseball team begins their 2014 season in Salisbury, MD on March 1 in a three-game series against Salisbury University.

This season is Matt Righter’s first season as head coach of the Hawks and he said he’s eager to start the season with his new team.

“I think that we have a lot of guys who are excited for the season, so we’re going to be in good shape,” Righter said.

The Hawks started practicing on Feb. 3 and due to the excessive amount of snow on the grounds, Righter said they’ve been practicing in a nearby dome field, in the gym and in the hitting area on campus, which they call the “batcave.”

Fourth-year Captain David Lostaglio said Righter has had a very smooth transition into becoming the head coach at New Paltz. He said the way Righter thinks about the game allows the team to have a whole new perspective while playing.

Right now, Righter said the key is for the pitchers to get their arms in shape, hitters to take a lot of swings in the cage and for the fielders to do agility work and to practice getting a read on the ball.

“We like to think we get more swings than any team in the country,” Righter said.

Righter said he is expecting his captains Lostaglio, third-year outfielder Richard Guido, fifth-year infielder Steven Morse and fourth-year pitcher Chris Pyz to be the leaders of the team and set a good example for other players.

On offense, Righter said he wants his team to play an aggressive style.

“We will shoot to take a lot of bases trying to push singles into doubles,” Righter said. “I would expect our guys to be pretty good on the base paths. You will probably see a lot of stolen bases out of our team.”

Righter said he is expecting a big season out of third-year infielder Stanley De La Cruz, who he said is as good of an athlete as he has seen at the Div. III level. He said Lostaglio will be the team’s clutch hitter and is looking for Morse to have a breakout year at the plate after hitting .198 last season.

Lostaglio said if the team utilizes their speed to go along with their tough lineup then opposing pitchers will have to work extremely hard to contain the Hawks.

Righter said the pitching staff will be led by Pyz, who he views as a “bulldog that will do whatever he has to do to help the team win.” He is also looking at fourth-year pitcher Andrew Grann and third-year pitcher Brian Solomon to be significant inning-getters for the team.

Overall, Righter said he expects his team to be resilient and have the opportunity to win a lot of games.

“If they get down it doesn’t bother them,” Righter said. “If they have some failure it doesn’t bother them. They get right back up and they’re ready to go back out there.”

Lostaglio said he has one goal he wants to accomplish during his final season as a Hawk.

“My only goal is to win a championship at this point,” he said.