PAXTON, Mass: The Anna Maria Baseball team is looking forward to their upcoming 2019 season, where they sit at fourth in the pre-season poll for the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.
The AMCATS find themselves sitting behind GNAC power houses in Suffolk and Saint Joseph's (Me.), with Johnson & Wales in the third slot to round up the top three.
The 'CATS are coming off one of their better seasons as a team and were rewarded with the jump from last place in the pre-season just one year prior. "Anna Maria looks to take another step forward under second-year head coach Dan Briand." Said the GNAC on their official release. After going 7-31 and 0-14 in GNAC play, Briand was able to turn it around and put together a 16-24 season going 6-8 in conference.
Coach is looking forward to his second season at the helm, with the core group of players from last year's season deciding to continue on at Anna Maria. "Not only did we keep our core from last year, we've also brought in a strong group of Freshmen" Said Briand "so we expect to compete right now with this group".
Key returners are reigning GNAC Rookie of the year Nick Genatossio (.364, 5 2B, 1 HR, 18 RBI; 2-0, 4.35) along with another power arm in senior Colin Pipkin (4-3, 5.36, 51 K, 50.1 IP). On the other side of the ball, the AMCATS will be returning two others that are consistently hitting above .300 in sophomore Noah Holland (.354, 9 2B, 2 HR, 18 RBI), and dual threat Adam Twitchell (.352, 10 2B, 1 3B, 9 RBI; 2-1, 3.80, 1 SV, 19 K, 21.1 IP).
Anna Maria will start their season with one contest against Newbury College February 23rd at 12:00 PM, before flying down to Lake Myrtle Florida. "Obviously we will be playing a tough schedule" Said Briand "there will be numerous regionally ranked teams and a couple NCAA tournament teams from last year". The team will be meeting up with Penn State Altoona and Trine while down south for some tough competition. They will round out that trip with Becker College and the University of Vermont-Lyndon.
Conference play will also be no easy task with Suffolk and Saint Josephs (Me.) sitting at the top of the pre-season poll, "We have tremendous amount of respect for SU and SJC," coach Briand said "they've been the top dogs in the GNAC for many years". Between the two schools the last nine championships have come from either SJC or Suffolk, with both teams going back to back multiple times. "We will have to play our best baseball to have a chance on beating them," he continued "but, I think we are ready to make the jump to that level now".
The AMCATS will be playing a full 40 game schedule this spring, with all of their home games being played in Northborough, at the New England Baseball Complex. There is almost an even split between home and away with the 'CATS playing two more road games in 21 versus 19 at home.