College Preview

2006 Patriot League Preview




HOW THEY'LL FINISH




Conference

Overall


W L W L
1. +Army 17 3 39 14
2. Lehigh 12 8 26 21
3. Bucknell 10 10 16 26
4. Lafayette 6 10 18 26
5. Navy 6 14 12 33
6. Holy Cross 5 11 13 23
(2005 records listed; 2006 national ranking in parentheses)
+ 2005 conference tournament champion; NCAA regional participants in boldface

Projected NCAA Teams (1): Army.
Conference Schedule: 20 games. Schedule begins April 1.
Conference Tournament: Three teams, May 13-14 at site of highest seed.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
* 2005 conference leader

C—Matt McBride, Jr., Lehigh (.258-2-29). 1B—Cole White, So., Army (.331-10-32). 2B—Tucker Frawley, Sr., Holy Cross (.409-2-16). 3B—Chris Brannan, Sr., Bucknell (.353-2-21). SS—Kyle Scogin, Jr., Army (.362-3-44, *19 SB). OF—Joe Ercolano, So., Lehigh (*.422-3-25); Andrew Smith, Sr., Lehigh (.350-*12-*49); Kyle Walter, Sr., Bucknell (.329-5-27). DH—Milan Dingo, Jr., Army (.350-2-35). P—Kyle Collina, Sr., Lehigh (6-5, 4.27, 72 IP/76 SO); Nick Hill, Jr., Army (*10-2, 1.21, 89 IP/90 SO); Cole White, So., Army (7-1, 3.07).

Player of the Year: Nick Hill, rhp, Army.
Top Newcomer: Andrew Ernesto, of, Army (Fr., HS—West Lawn, Pa.).

PROJECTED TOP PROSPECTS, 2006-07 DRAFTS
1. Matt McBryde, c, Lehigh.
2. Kyle Collina, rhp, Lehigh.
3. Ian Law, ss, Lafayette.

SHORT HOPS

• Coach Joe Sottolano has made Army the dominant team in the Patriot League. The Black Knights won the regular-season and conference titles each of the last two seasons, winning 37 games in 2004 and topping it with 39 a year ago. Pitching coach Fritz Hamburg has led a staff that finished 12th in the nation in ERA in 205 with a school-record seven shutouts. The Cadets are heavily favored again this year as they return their two top starters, junior LHP Nick Hill (10-2, 1.21) and sophomore RHP Cole White (7-1, 3.07), and two top relievers, junior closer Milan Dinga (0-0, 0.57, 8 SV) and senior setup man Monte Jones (1-1, 0.88). In addition, junior SS Kyle Scogin (.362-3-44), the league’s player of the year, returns to anchor the infield.

• With Army (and Navy) players ineligible to play professional baseball except under special circumstances, Lehigh has the Patriot League’s best prospects for this year’s draft. Junior C Matt McBride (.258-2-29) earned all-star honors in the Alaska League last summer and could be drafted in the first 10 rounds if he unleashes his power potential. RHP Kyle Collina (6-5, 4.27) was the No. 2-ranked prospect in the Atlantic Collegiate League last summer, with his fastball hitting 93 mph in that league’s all-star game. Senior OF Andrew Smith (.350-12-49), who set school records for home runs and RBIs last year, also is expected to draw interest from scouts.

• Army 1B/RHP Cole White has all-conference potential at two positions, but he isn’t the only Patriot Leaguer who will do double duty this year. Dinga, White’s teammate, will play left field (.350-2-35) in addition to his role as the Cadets’ closer. Bucknell also has a pair of two-way players: sophomore 1B/RHP Jason Buursma (.306-5-30; 1-2, 3.48) and senior OF/LHP Kyle Walter (.329-5-27), whose fastball has been clocked at 90 mph in rare appearances on the mound.