With the first pitch of the 2011 Hofstra baseball season about three months away third year head coach Patrick Anderson is excited about the state of his team with a solid nucleus of talented younger players and older veterans determined to bring the program to a new level.
Hofstra finished its fall season late last month and in two days of competition against Nassau Community College and Suffolk Community College scored over 40 runs. “It has been such a good positive experience in the fall,” said Anderson, whose team stayed right in contention for a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) playoff bid until the very end of the 2010 season. “The experience from last spring is just going to bring that confidence going into this spring as well.”
After losing graduating All-CAA players Matt Prokopowicz and Ethan Paquette, who was selected in the 35th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Seattle Mariners, Anderson will look for new senior leadership in 2011 from pitcher Rob Kumbatovic, who red-shirted last year, outfielder Scott A’Hara and closer Jeff Guthridge. Anderson is also hoping to get some leadership on and off the field from San Diego State transfer T.J. Thomas, who was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 45th round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft before deciding to play on the collegiate level. The Hicksville, Long Island native decided to return closer to home last year but had to sit out the 2010 season because of NCAA transfer rules.
“We feel he has a lot of leadership skills in terms of his ability and the way he goes about his business,” said Anderson of Thomas.
Among the many junior college transfers Anderson said have stood out in the fall are center fielder Danny Poma (Cuesta College), catcher/first baseman Dylan Nasiatka (Bakersfield College), first baseman/third baseman Joe Perez (College of the Sequoias) and relief pitcher Stephan Kungl (Cypress Community College). Highlighting Hofstra’s talented freshman class is infielder Logan Davis, a Scottsdale, Ariz. Native who was drafted in the 37th round of the MLD Draft by the Colorado Rockies out of high school. Davis’s father Mark Davis was the 1989 National League Cy Young Award winner for the San Diego Padres and coached with Anderson in the Kansas City Royals organization.
Other freshmen expected to contribute this spring include pitcher Bryan Verbitsky, who won back-to-back Diamond Awards as the best pitcher in Nassau County for Island Trees High School in Levittown, N.Y. and is already throwing in the low 90’s and can swing the bat as well, Anderson said. Another Long Island talent that decided to take his skills to Hofstra is catcher Matt Reistetter, who was a TPX All American out of Hauppauge High School.
Anderson said with so much young talent combined with some solid returning players there will be some stiff competition to enter that starting lineup come the spring. “We have so many guys now that are competing for positions,” he said.
For the next couple months Hofstra will be hard at work indoors lifting weights and conditioning in preparation for heading back out on the field in February. Anderson credited the baseball team’s strength and conditioning coach James Pendergast for the solid shape he has gotten the players in.
“It has been an awesome, awesome program he is putting them through,” said Anderson of Pendergast. “I can’t explain how excited we are going into the season.”