Fredonia State opens season Thursday in?Florida

The Fredonia State baseball team opens its season Thursday with a doubleheader against Salve Regina in Ft. Myers, Fla. The Devils will play a total of 13 games in the Sunshine State, including three conference tilts against SUNYAC rival Plattsburgh.

“We have a very challenging schedule this season,” said head coach Matt Palisin. “Our Florida schedule should do a great job preparing us for conference play. We see our trip as having 13 wins on the table. It’s up to us to go out and get them.”

Salve Regina was 29-12 a year ago. Other opponents include Haverford (27-11 in 2013), No. 20 ranked Johns Hopkins (37-10, NCAA Regional), Knox (won a school-record 22 games last year), McDaniel (22-16) and St. Lawrence (20-17).

The Devils also take on New York region teams St. Joe’s and Skidmore. They wrap up the trip with Wisconsin-Platteville.

The Devils lost a lot of offense to graduation.

“We lost our two through six hitters, but feel confident we will build on last year’s success,”?Palisin said.”

The infield will be made up of senior team captains Kyle Koslowski and Conner Lorenzo and senior Matt Casilio. Lorenzo and Casilio started last year, and join junior Erik Krohl, who has started at shortstop since his freshman year, to make up a veteran infield. Ricky Mendiola, who will split time at first and DH with Koslowski, is a junior college transfer who put up solid power numbers at Erie Community College.

The Devils had one catcher last season. They will have much greater depth heading into 2014. Transfers Anthony Schiro and Dan Cecelia provide experience. Schiro made two trips to the NJCAA World Series while at Niagara County Community College. Newcomer Mike Prentice was the starting catcher for the New York State American Legion champions. Jason Howard adds to the depth.

Returning to right field is Kenny Johnston, who was named to the SUNYAC All Tournament team last year. In center will be Bobby Frantz, who provides a combination of power and speed and was the leadoff hitter for two seasons at Monroe Community College. The Devils will move him to the middle of the order.

The third outfield spot will be very competitive. Sophomore Quinn Danahy enjoyed a cup of coffee last year and hit .600 (6 for 10). Red-shirt sophomore Ryan Carmody is a speedy outfielder with a lot of games under his belt. Newcomer Scott Schuster will also push for time in the outfield. Freshman Ciro Fronatale, who will play infield and outfield, may get the opening-day nod.

“Despite significant losses, our lineup is full of juniors and seniors,” Palisin said.

On the mound, the Devils will rely on the one-two punch of senior Sean Larson (Angola/St. Francis) and red-shirt junior Steve Sturm. The third conference starter will be sorted out in Florida.

Sophomores Carl Wolf and Joe Korszun will see plenty of innings. Juniors Evan Carmello (Fredonia) and Matt Tobias, a Jamestown Community College transfer, will also compete for starts.

Out of the pen will be seniors Kyle Grey and Joey Tingue (South Dayton/Pine Valley) and junior Tommy Morris.

Another pair, senior Nate Lester and sophomore Ben Senior (Angola/Lake Shore), missed last season due to injury. Lester is one of the most athletic players on the team, and Senior is imposing at 6-3. Freshmen Cody Herman and Jason Weyman were teammates at Wayne High School. Both have thrown well since setting foot on campus.

“We brought back a number of pitchers,” Palisin said. “Our depth will be much greater this year after having four pitchers miss much of last season with various injuries. Hopefully their adversity serves them well and they go out there and compete.”