2017 SEASON PREVIEW
The Amherst College baseball team returns to the diamond positioned for success following a season that saw eighth-year head coach Brian Hamm lead the Purple & White to yet another 20-plus win year and a national high ranking of 17/14.
Returning a solid core with an abundance of experience, Amherst is set to welcome back 24 student-athletes - including six seniors, nine juniors, and nine sophomores - in addition to welcoming six newcomers.
"This year has been really enjoyable so far because we have a great group of coaches and players who work hard together," commented Hamm. "We take a lot of pride in our strong character which serves as the foundation for our success on and off the field. We have shown improvement at every practice this spring and we are looking to learn a lot about ourselves when we play challenging competition to start the season."
Wrapping up last spring with a 24-13 overall record, Amherst posted a 7-5 mark in league action to capture the second-seed in the West and qualify to its sixth consecutive NESCAC Championship tournament.
Amherst returns three of its five All-Conference selections from a season ago, including Harry Roberson '18, Anthony Spina '17 and Jackson Volle '17. Volle also claimed d3baseball.com, ABCA/Rawlings and NEIBA All-New England honors in 2016 following his stellar junior campaign on the mound.
Recording a .316 team batting average, .394 on base percentage, .430 slugging percentage and 409 hits last spring, Amherst once again looks poised to be an offensive force in the NESCAC.
The Purple & White return five sluggers with a .300-plus batting average, led by junior Ariel Kenney who posted team-high numbers in batting average and hits, .369 and 52, respectively. Driving in 29 runs, Kenney was also one of three players to log a slugging percentage above .500.
Leading the team in on base percentage (.444) and slugging percentage (.568), Spina is set to once again be an offensive catalyst for the Purple & White, while Yanni Thanopoulos '17 will aim to build on his team-high 33 RBIs in 2016.
Max Steinhorn '18 and Roberson are also expected to provide offensive production for Amherst, with Steinhorn notching a .338 batting average behind 50 hits and Roberson capturing a .336 batting average, 50 hits and 38 RBIs a season ago.
Amherst returns a seasoned pitching staff, including five that saw 20-plus innings a year ago, but do face the task of replacing Riley Streit '16 who threw 60.0 innings on the mound and recorded 10 starts.
Senior right-hander Volle headlines a Purple & White unit that finished second in the conference in earned run average (4.30) in 2016. Tossing 60.1 innings in 10 appearances, Volle registered a NESCAC-leading 1.79 ERA and logged six wins while fanning 44 batters and posting 6.56 strikeouts per game.
George Long '17 and Wilson Taylor '19 join Volle in the rotation, with both pitchers throwing 30.0 innings a season ago. Long appeared in 14 contests en route to owning a 4-1 record and a 3.90 ERA, while Wilson took the mound in eight games, including six starts, to record a 7.20 strikeouts per game average and a 3.60 ERA.
Seniors Chris Baldi and Mike Castiglie polish off the Amherst returners who eclipsed the 20 inning mark, with Baldi posting a 5.09 K/9 and Castiglie logging a 3.18 ERA and a 5.56 K/9. Both pitchers finished with two saves on the year.
Drew Fischer '18 and Andrew Ferrero '19 are also poised to make an impact of the mound. In a solid rookie campaign, Ferrero notched a team-high three saves and a 3.79 ERA in 16 appearances, while Fischer finished 2-0 on the year and recorded an impressive 7.30 K/9 average.
Up against a strong strength of schedule, the Purple & White open the 2017 season with an eight-game Spring Break trip that features three top-25 opponents – including #4 Keystone (March 12), #21 Mariette (March 18) and #12 Wooster (March 19).
Amherst wraps up their March slate with its home opener against Wheaton on March 26 starting at 1 p.m. before traveling to Springfield on March 29.
Amherst starts off the month of May with back-to-back double header days, battling Nichols and Bowdoin at home on April 1 and April 2, respectively. The Purple & White's away games will include Castleton, Easter Connecticut State, Williams, Hamilton and Wesleyan, while Amherst will welcome Mitchell, Middlebury, Williams, Salve Regina, Curry, Elms and Wesleyan to the Pioneer Valley.
Amherst concludes the regular season with four games in May, traveling to Brandeis (May 2) and Colby (May 6) and hosting UMASS-Boston (May 3).
Not yet a member of the Friends of Amherst Baseball for the 2017 year? Become a first-time member of or renew your membership in the FAA and support Coach Hamm and the baseball program. Make a gift ahead of the team's first game on Sunday, March 12 against Keystone. Go Amherst!