HOW THEY'LL FINISH
Projected NCAA Teams (1): George Washington.
Conference Schedule: 27 games. Schedule begins March 24.
Conference Tournament: Six teams, May 25-29 at Bronx, N.Y. (Fordham).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
* 2005 conference leader
C—Kris Rochelle, Jr., Charlotte (.285-6-44). 1B—Brian Pelligrini, Jr., St. Bonaventure (.376-11-52). 2B—Galen Schumm, Sr., Dayton (.354-7-42). 3B—Tom Shanley, Sr., George Washington (.366-8-48). SS—Michael Massa, Jr., Dayton (.338-3-23). OF—Bobby Getty, Jr., Dayton (.333-6-48); Greg Smith, Sr., Fordham (.323-5-37); Ben Zeskind, Sr., Richmond (.316-6-31). DH—Ryan Cunningham, Jr., Rhode Island (.365-7-45). P—Derrik Lutz, Jr., George Washington (8-1, 2.79, 84 IP/98 SO); Cory Riordan, So., Fordham (10-4, 3.61); Luke Trubee, Sr., Dayton (*12-3, 2.91)
Player of the Year: Derrik Lutz, George Washington.
Top Newcomer: Arshwin Asjes, rhp, Temple (So., 34th round/Reds ’05).
PROJECTED TOP PROSPECTS, 2006-07 DRAFTS
1. Derrik Lutz, rhp, George Washington.
2. #Cory Riordan, rhp, Fordham.
3. Javier Martinez, rhp, Fordham.
# Not eligible for 2006 draft
• Rhode Island set a school record with 35 wins in 2004 and won the Atlantic-10’s Northern Division title but failed to advance to the NCAA tournament. Last year, the Rams won 34 times and succeeded in winning their first A-10 tournament, good for their first-ever regional spot. Frank Leoni, architect of Rhode Island’s success, resigned after the season to take the head coaching job at William & Mary. He was replaced by assistant Jim Foster, a veteran minor league player and former Big East Conference all-star catcher at Providence.
• Leoni’s departure was one of three from the coaching ranks in the conference. Longtime Temple coach James “Skip” Wilson stepped aside after 46 years, ending the longest tenure by a Division I baseball coach. He was replaced by Rob Valli, who led Gloucester County (N.J.) Community College to the 2005 Junior College Division III national title. Xavier also hired Scott Googins, an assistant to Dan Simonds, who resigned after one season to return to Miami (Ohio). The conference also had three new coaches a year ago.
• With the addition of Charlotte and St. Louis from Charlotte USA, the Atlantic-10 has swelled to 14 teams, making it the largest baseball conference in the country.
• George Washington will resist temptation to move junior RHP Derrik Lutz (8-1, 2.79) to the bullpen to replace Joel Brookens (0-1, 2.53), who led the conference with 10 saves a year ago. Lutz worked as an all-star closer last summer for Chatham in the Cape Cod League, saving a league-best 12 games while not allowing an earned run in 25 innings and striking out 59. Brookens transferred to North Carolina State.
• Richmond has slipped from a school-record 53 wins in 2002 to 48 in 2003, to 35 in 2004 and 22 a year ago. The Spiders will start a freshman or sophomore at catcher and all four infield positions. Sophomore C Alex Hale (.292-2-18) also will serve as the Spiders closer (1-0, 1.64).
• Dayton won a school record 36 games a year ago and it returns its all-conference double-play combination of senior 2B Galen Schumm (.354-7-42) and junior SS Michael Massa (.338-4-35), along with ace senior RHP Luke Trubee (12-3, 2.91), who led the conference in wins and tied for the national lead with nine complete games.