February 20, 2013

Baseball In Preparation For 2013 Season

By Jim Sarkisian
Special to GoHolyCross.com

The 2013 Holy Cross baseball team returns a total of 24 players from the 2012 squad. Last season the Crusaders won a school record 33 games en route to a 33-22 record overall and a 13-7 mark in the Patriot League. The squad finished the regular season in second place in the standings and made it to the Patriot League championship series versus Army, where they lost in a best-of-three series. During the 2012 season, the team posted the best fielding percentage in the 137-year history of the program and broke the school record for saves in a season (15) and strikeouts (350). The team also finished above a .500 winning percentage for the first time since the 1990-1991 season. The Crusaders bring a lot of experience to this year's team as they look to capture their first-ever Patriot League Championship and their first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 1978 season.

Recently, sixth-year head coach Greg DiCenzo talked to GoHolyCross.com as the team prepares for the 2013 season.

GoHolyCross.com: How have the off-season practices gone so far and how have they helped the team prepare for the 2013 season?

Greg DiCenzo: Practices have gone well. We are trying to put the guys in as many live game scenarios and competitive situations as possible.

GoHolyCross.com: You will take two trips this spring to Blacksburg, Va. to play Virginia Tech and Temple as well as a west coast trip to take on Nevada, Cal Poly, Michigan, nationally ranked San Diego and St. Louis. How will these trips not only help the team prepare for the Patriot League, but also help them come together as a group?

DiCenzo: These types of trips are essential in both of those two areas you mentioned. Preparing our team for conference play and enabling the student-athletes to have an experience with each other that only baseball provides. Playing a boatload of games in that short amount of time tells a lot about one's toughness and hopefully provides the team an opportunity to gel.

GoHolyCross.com: With 12 seniors and seven returning offensive starters, this year's team is very experienced. How important is it to have this leadership and experience on this year's squad?

DiCenzo: Just having a roster of older players doesn't mean an awful lot. The type of people and student-athletes that we do have is what really matters. It is the character of the person, the athletic skill-set they bring to the field and their competitiveness that really matters. The fact that we have a bundle of guys that excel in those three categories is essential to our pending success.

GoHolyCross.com: Last year's team broke the 89-year old mark of 30 wins set in 1921 and finished with a total of 33 victories. How can the team continue its success this season?

DiCenzo: Our goal is to play in an NCAA Regional. Although having 33 wins was nice, I think if you ask any player on that 2012 club, they would trade all 33 wins for a trip to the NCAA Tournament. So to be honest, I am not sure it would be considered an incredibly successful season.

GoHolyCross.com: What do co-captains John Colella (Herndon, Va.) and Mike Ahmed (East Longmeadow, Mass) bring to this year's team?

DiCenzo: Leadership, character, competitiveness. That's really all you could ever ask for in any athlete.

GoHolyCross.com: You add eight freshmen to this year's squad. What are you expecting from this year's freshman class?

DiCenzo:  I am expecting each first-year player to contribute early in their career when given the opportunity. Needless to say, each player and coach hopes that comes sooner than later.

GoHolyCross.com: What are you expecting from the offense in 2013?

DiCenzo: Offensively, I feel we have the best hitting coach (Jeff Kane) in this region of the country and I am expecting them to compete in every at-bat and pressure opposing teams for nine full innings every game.

GoHolyCross.com: What do you see as the strength of the team this season?

DiCenzo: Again, I feel the strength of our team is character and competitiveness. What we do once that first pitch is thrown this season is totally dependent on those two ingredients. How we prepare, how we carry ourselves on the field and how we compete will all dictate the direction of our upcoming season.

GoHolyCross.com: What are the goals for this season?

DiCenzo: Concern ourselves with the process. That is our goal. If we do that, we will hopefully put the team in position to compete in the month of June.