March 12, 2003
AMHERST, MA - The Amherst College baseball team entered the 2002 campaign with sky-scraping aspirations, believing that they would be headed for their second-straight postseason berth. However, a damper was placed on the Jeffs' season when they dropped their final conference game and saw their playoff hopes fall by the wayside. The 2003 squad returns a wealth of veterans looking to avenge last season's heartbreaking defeat and return to the NESCAC's upper echelon.
Amherst will have to rely on strong defense and hitting after losing its two top guns to graduation. Starting pitcher Dave Krauser went 5-2 with a team-leading 44 strikeouts and second-team All-NESCAC hurler Jeff Leduc - who tossed a pair of shutouts and finished with a team-best earned run average of 1.91 - will be sorely missed. They will also be without the services of J.R. Drabick, a four-year starting signal caller behind home plate. Despite these losses the Jeffs remain optimistic, returning a slew of starters, including their two leading hitters.
First-team All-NESCAC sophomore Matt Potter posted a team-high .409 batting average and returns at third base. Sophomore Josh Santry started 33 games last year and is back at shortstop. Junior Franciso Morales saw limited action in 2002 and will take the job at second base. Senior Brett Nicol and newcomer David Levinson will jockey for time at first base. Senior co-captain Joe Katuska smacked a team-leading five homers as a utility man last season and will split time with junior Tom Sullivan, both are looking to fill Drabick's shoes at catcher. Sophomore Mike Erkkinen will spell Potter at third, while rookie Zack Schonberger could also see time on the left side of the infield. Junior Dan Healy will back-up Katuska and Sullivan, while junior Brandon Cody follows up Morales, rounding out a deep and talented infield.
Sophomore David Powers returns to left field after hitting .336 while leading the team in RBI's, runs and doubles. Junior Paul Whiting - a three-sport standout - paced the team with 11 stolen bases and will track down any fly balls in center field. Senior co-captain John Schneider finished second on the team in hitting and returns as another pivotal player in right field. Newcomer Andrew Green could also vie for time in an athletic and experienced outfield.
A new starting rotation might need some time to establish itself. Senior Jonah Ansell started six games in 2002, going 3-0 with a 3.13 earned run average while holding opponents to a .186 batting average. Junior Andy Kerns possesses a dominating arsenal, notching 28 strikeouts in 26.1 innings last year. Junior Duncan Webb also moves into the starting rotation after appearing in 14 games in 2002. Sophomores Kyle Lavery, Ed Imperatore and Joe Houkal will combine with rookies Joe Vladeck, Brant Ford, Rob Anderson and senior Chris Vecsey - the team's lone southpaw - to man the bullpen.
Head coach Bill Thurston's unit begins the 2003 season with a 10-game spring break trip in Florida that opens with a tilt against Johns Hopkins on March 15. They return home to Memorial Field on March 29 for a double-header against Little Three foe Wesleyan University before looking to avenge last season's heartbreaking loss to Williams on April 26.
Jeffs Eye Return to Postseason
March 12, 2003