Royals’ baseball head coach Mike Bartoletti sees potential in his team despite losing key players. The team will rely on a strong offensive and exceptional athleticism this year in order to get the victories they need. Bartoletti stated that this year’s team is one of the most athletic, if not the most athletic teams he has ever had.
The Royals lose graduate Corey Gorman, who was named the 2013 Landmark Conference pitcher of the year and was recently drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. Gorman has been working with the team in preseason, which Bartoletti believes has been beneficial because Gorman helps motivates the players. Gorman is an example of what can happen to a talented player who chooses not to play Division I. The team also graduated pitcher Bobby Della Polla, who holds the Scranton baseball record for most victories in a single season with seven. Della Polla, who Bartoletti said is one of the best team leaders he has ever seen, will return to the squad as an assistant coach this season.
Junior Matt Calamoneri should see considerable time on the mound this year. Calamoneri had eight starts and four victories, the second highest on the team. Bartoletti may look to use three or four pitchers in games because of this year’s personnel.
Bartoletti added 12 first years to his roster, which includes 26 returning players from the 2013 team that went 23-20. Among the 12 first years are some key pitchers, including the New York Catholic League pitcher of the year. Bartoletti is pleased with his incoming class and expects a handful of them to contribute right away.
Seniors Michael Gaeta and Chris Rom and juniors Matt Calamoneri and Ross Danzig will serve as team captains this year. Bartoletti lists his captains as some of the team’s hardest workers and expects that they will demonstrate leadership for the underclassmen by example.
The team was chosen to finish fifth in the Landmark Conference in the pre-season ranking. Bartoletti said the pre-season ranking does not mean much to the team; their goal is to compete for the Landmark Conference championship no matter what. He says the team will pick up right where it left off last year and immediately look toward reaching its goal.
The way to the championship holds some challenges. The Royals will open the Landmark Conference season with a three-game series when they travel to Washington, D.C. in mid-March to face Catholic University. Despite Moravian being ranked first in the pre-season poll, Bartoletti believes Catholic will be the Royals’ biggest rival because of each team’s skill set.
NCAA rules limit the amount of time coaches are allowed to spend with the team prior to the official start of the season, but the team was able to do indoor workouts prepared by The University’s exercise science department in order to stay in shape over the winter.
The inclement weather has caused the team to practice on many different surfaces, such as artificial turf and in the Long Center gym. They will play for the first time this season when they travel to Florida. It will be the first time playing on grass after having limited outdoor practices. Bartoletti believes it is important for the team to win some games while in Florida because their performance there will translate into the season and in conference play. He has a very deep roster and hopes to experiment with some of his inexperienced players to find the best lineup.
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