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2007 W&L BASEBALL PREVIEW

Ask any head coach to prognosticate their upcoming season and they will likely point out the tangible and intangible concepts that are imperative to their squad's success.
W&L Head Coach Jeff Stickley provides no exception to the rule as he enters his 21st season in the Generals’ dugout – he knows there will be many keys to his team’s play during the 2007 season.

Some of those keys are critical such as playing fundamental baseball -- “Pitching well, hitting well and playing good defense,” noted Stickley. However, other keys are less fundamental and more abstract.

"We need timely hitting and we also need for the guys who hit the ball well last season to hit it even better,” he explained. "Everyday improvement in the infield and outfield will be key, our experienced players need to play with confidence and everyone must stay healthy.”

While Stickley hopes that all these intangibles will come together, he is confident that his team will live up to expectations and everything will fall into place.

“Our expectation is always to make the ODAC Tournament field,” said Stickley. “I feel like we have a good shot to achieve that goal again this season.”

Stickley believes that for his team to meet its goals, it must be able to depend on its six seniors, especially captains Clayton Edwards, David Miller and Jordan Wesley.

"I expect the senior class to set the tone for the season and to really show the younger players what we expect from our team," said Stickley. "I think having such a large, experienced senior class is going to be a positive for our team. There is no question that experience and having a strong upper class is one of our biggest strengths."

The captains, along with senior shortstop Ray Sweeney, senior pitcher Johnson Brownlow and senior outfielder Richard Garland, have all seen significant action throughout their careers and are a major reason why W&L has posted a 66-44-1 (.599) record over their first three seasons.

Leading the push will be the Generals’ pitching staff, which includes Edwards and Brownlow, juniors Tim Livingston, Steve Marcott, Jeff Pharis and John Parker, sophomores Chris Sherwin, Brendan Clark and Andrew Henderson, and freshmen Hunter Serenbetz, Nathaniel Adkins and Charles Davidson.

Edwards has been the team’s ace for the past two seasons, posting a 14-6 record with a 3.38 ERA during that stretch. He has also struck out 106 batters, while walking just 39 hitters. Brownlow has also been one of the team’s top hurlers over the past two campaigns and claims a 6-5 record with a 4.69 ERA over that time.

Adding to an experienced staff is a group of juniors that have seen plenty of innings the past two seasons. Livingston went 2-1 last season, posting 24 strikeouts in 24 innings. Marcott was 2-0 in 24.2 innings of work and Parker was 2-4 after going 4-1 during his freshman season. Pharis was 1-3, but had a respectable 3.21 ERA in 14 appearances.

Sherwin, Clark and Henderson all have the ability to contribute, while Serenbetz, Adkins and Davidson will help distribute some of the innings throughout the season.

“Both of our senior pitchers are very experienced and I think that will really help us this year,” noted Stickley. “We basically have the same pitching staff from last year, so all I hope is that they continue to improve.”

Charged with handling the staff will be Wesley, who will be spelled by junior Dan Harris and freshman Will Lewis. A First Team All-ODAC selection in 2005, Wesley hit .308 with eight doubles, four homeruns and 32 RBI last season. Stickley believes that the increased depth behind the plate this spring will allow Wesley to concentrate on his hitting and thus see an increase in his production at the plate.

Behind the battery, Stickley returns the majority of his infield, but must find a way to address the loss of All-ODAC first baseman Taylor McConnell, who accounted for a team-high 15 doubles, three homeruns and 26 RBI. The frontrunner to replace McConnell is Henderson, who batted .321 with one homerun and seven RBI in limited action last season, while Serenbetz is another option at the position.

"Replacing McConnell will not be easy, but Henderson had a great fall and I think he is up it," explained Stickley. "Serenbetz is a versatile infielder and can play several different positions.”

The remaining infield positions should look quite similar as Miller returns to play second base, Sweeney returns at shortstop and Edwards will continue to play third base when not on the mound. Miller hit .345 with nine doubles and 28 RBI last season and he enters his final season ranked second all-time at W&L with a .367 batting average.

Sweeney started 26 games at shortstop in 2006, batting .192 with eight RBI, while Edwards hit .318 with 10 doubles, three homeruns and 16 runs batted in.

“Miller and Sweeney can and have played almost anywhere on the field,” said Stickley. “They are two of our most multipurpose players.”

Sophomores Byron Peyster and Peter Blue along with freshmen John Ditore and Jim Plantholt provide Stickley with further options in the infield.

The Generals outfield looks to be a versatile and deep group and they are headlined by junior rightfielder James Madden.

A Second Team-All ODAC, First Team All-District and Honorable Mention All-South selection in 2006, Madden led the team in hits (54), runs (39), homeruns (7), triples (5), total bases (94) and slugging percentage (.758), while hitting .435 in 124 at-bats.

"Madden had a huge sophomore year," said Stickley. "If he's healthy, I expect him to do the same this season."

Sophomore Terrence McKelvey looks to have centerfield locked up, while Garland and Livingston should see plenty of time in left field. Stickley also expects freshman Ben Lawrence to see plenty of time across the outfield positions.

"Our outfield is very deep this year -- the deepest it has been in sometime," noted Stickley. "I hope that the depth and experience there will help us play good, solid defense. It's as good an outfield as I've had in a long time."

According to Stickley, McKelvey is "poised to be a great player" after a freshman campaign that saw him bat .443 with 13 RBI in just 61 plate appearances. Garland hit .326 with 11 doubles, two homeruns and 23 RBI, while Livingston was utilized primarily as a pitcher last season and received just two at-bats.

"We have a lot versatility and we can interchange some of our positions,” concluded Stickley. “We have a lot of guys who are familiar with several different positions and that will help us, but we hope that as the season progresses we can find the best, most solid lineup that will win us the most games and take us to the tournament.”


Contact: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director
PO Drawer 928
Lexington, VA 24450
Phone: 540-463-8670