PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania baseball team will open its 2007 campaign this Saturday against Maine at 1 p.m. in Boca Raton, Fla. It is the start of eight games in eight days for the Quakers.
Here is a look at the 2007 season.
Some things to think about as the Quakers look forward to 2007 ...
The Quakers return nine letterwinners, including seven everyday starters and one starting pitcher from 2006.
Senior Josh Corn (second-team), senior Doug Brown (honorable mention) and sophomore Tim May (honorable mention) were all named All-Ivy in 2006.
Brown and fellow senior Joey Boaen were named to the Inaugural Philadelphia Diamond Five team.
Despite missing the final 11 games of the 2006 season, Boaen finished 10th in the Ivy League with a .349 batting average and third with a .596 slugging percentage.
Last season, Brown posted the fifth-best ERA in the league (3.70). In Ivy League games, his ERA dropped almost a run to 2.79.
Brown fanned a team-best 38 batters and averaged 8.27 strikeouts per game in 2006.
Brown’s four league-wins tied for tops in the Ancient Eight.
Corn batted .455 versus lefty’s last season, good for fourth-best in the Ancient Eight last season.
Behind the dish, Corn threw out a league-best 20 of 48 base stealers a aseason ago.
Penn returns five players that batted at least .294 drove at least 23 RBIs and scored 20 runs last season.
Junior Alex Nwaka led the Quakers in batting in League games, hitting .361 in 20 games.
Nwaka also tied for first in Ivy games with nine doubles and a .561 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Junior Bret Wallace hurled a team-best two complete games in 2006.
His best performance came against Lehigh (3/18) when he allowed no earned runs and just two extra base hits in the Quakers 5-1 win.
May tied for the team lead in RBIs (26) and and finished in the top-five on the team in six other offensive categories.
Junior Kyle Armeny, a .289 career hitter boosted his batting average (.294), runs scored (20), hits (42) and RBI (25) from 2005 to 2006.
A left handed hitter, Armeny excelled against lefties hitting .320 last season.
Despite hitting .260 last season, sophomore Jim Farrell also handled lefties well hitting .333
Junior Andy Console, who saw time as a designated hitter and pinch hitter last season will return to a relief pitching role in 2007. As a reliever in 2005 he led the Quakers with four saves.
Quoting Coach John Cole
Team Goals for 2007 ...
Our team goals are the same every year. We want to maximize our abilities within our team, overachieve, stay consistent throughout the year with good leadership and team chemistry, win an Ivy League Championship and compete in the NCAA tournament. Once we establish that setting, anything is achievable and anything can happen.
Teams leadership ...
I believe the strength of this team will be the senior leadership. Seniors Josh Corn (Allendale, N.J.), Joey Boaen (Savannah, Ga.) and Doug Brown (Philadelphia, Pa.), are coming off good junior seasons and have the qualities to lead. Their approach to the handling of the team as a whole, their teammates as individuals, maintaining their own success and controlling their response to adversity, will probably determine how far we go in 2007. We have confidence in these young men, and I expect them to represent our program well, both on and off the field.
Freshman class ...
Our freshman class this year has the makings of a special group. A large, talented class, these young players must adjust to the rigors of Division I baseball. A good portion of this class will see significant playing time, and we believe they will improve throughout the season. The restructuring of our pitching staff and infield were top priorities for this class. The incoming group consists of five primary pitchers, three infielders, one outfielder and a pair of two-way players (pitcher/infielder). This group should provide tremendous competition to the returning Quakers in 2007.
This is another critical area of improvement for us in 2007. We must stabilize our defense to give a rapidly developing pitching staff time to mature. There will be many new faces in the infield this season. Sophomore Jim Farrell (Yardley, Pa.) returns to third base and provides some experience to a young infield. Freshman middle infielders Steve Gable (Emmaus, Pa.), William Gordon (LaGrange, Ga.) and Matt Toffaletti (Durham, N.C.) will battle it out for the middle positions. Junior Scott Graham (Colchester, Vt.) and sophomore Rajan Paty (Syosset, N.Y.) will provide depth to those positions. At first base, converted outfielder Kyle Armeny (Florham Park, N.J.), a junior, will have the first look but will receive a challenge from freshman Reid Terry (Atlanta, Ga.), sophomore Tim May (Mission Viejo, Calif.) and freshman Jason D'Ambrosio (Phildelphia, Pa.).
The outfield will have some familiar faces and should be the most experienced part of our team. Senior tri-captain Joey Boaen returns after a strong junior campaign when he hit .349. He gives us a blend of speed and power. Converted infielder, junior Alex Nwaka (Burtonville, Md.), should cover ground in the outfield and gives us a legitimate base-stealing threat offensively. Boaen and Nwaka will split the leftfield and centerfield duties. Right field will be a battle between juniors Jarron Smith (Carrolltown, Texas) and Mike Gatti (Watchung, N.J.). Sophomore Tony Moses (Huntingdon Beach, Calif.) could also make his way into the lineup. Jake Palumbo (Orefield, Pa) will provide depth to these positions.
Senior second-team All-Ivy catcher Josh Corn returns for his final season and will be a mainstay behind the dish. Corn enjoyed a stellar 2006 campaign when he hit .346. He also threw out 20 of 48 base stealers. He will be counted on again to control the running game and give the staff confidence. Sophomore Jeff Cellucci (Coatesville, Pa.) will also see time behind the plate. Cellucci is a very strong defensive catcher. Sophomores Tim May and Matt Grimes (Upper Brookville, Pa.) will provide depth behind the plate.
This should be our most improved area in 2007. A host of new arms and a few returning upperclassmen should provide a strong foundation as we continue to develop our entire pitching staff for the 2007 season. The starting rotation could consist of junior Bret Wallace (Lafayette, Calif.), freshman lefty Jim Birmingham (Pine Hill, N.J.), junior lefty Nick Francona (Yardley, Pa.) and then a host of young right-handers featuring Reid Terry (Atlanta, Ga.), Robbie Seymour (Atlanta, Ga.), Todd Roth (Lanoke Harbor, N.J.) and Mike Marg (Pepper Pike, Ohio). This is a young but talented group who must mature quickly if we are to factor in the Ivy League Championship in 2007.
In the middle will be senior RHP Joe Thornton (Lincoln, R.I.), junior Andy Console (Haddonfield, N.J.) and freshman Anthony Aruffo (Little Rock, Ark.). We will close out games with freshman set-up man William Gordon and senior closer Doug Brown, who is coming off an outstanding junior season in which he registered five wins and four saves.
The Ivy League season ...
The Ivy League season is a concentrated season, and it is very important to get off to a quick start. The keys to winning the league for us are to play well at home and especially do a better job on game four of the weekend series. With the weekend doubleheaders, our team must stay focused for all four games and have depth on the mound to win each series. We will prepare our pre-season practice sessions and our Florida trip to handle the long weekends. Our home field can be an advantage, but we have to do much better at pitching and playing there. We must have several of the upperclassmen step up and have strong seasons, while a couple of the young arms must produce immediately. If we can implement this plan, we have a chance to be playing into late May.