2013 Colonial Athletic Association Preview

  Conference Overall
Team W L W L
*UNC Wilmington 24 6 39 23
Delaware 17 13 31 27
Hofstra 20 10 34 22
Towson 15 15 27 31
William & Mary 12 18 31 25
James Madison 10 20 16 35
Old Dominion 9 21 19 34
George Mason 16 14 33 24
Georgia State 14 16 24 31
Northeastern 13 17 23 28
*2012 conference champion.
Teams listed in bold are 2012 NCAA tournament participants. Teams are listed in order of predicted finish. The records listed are from the 2012 season.
Projected NCAA Teams (1): UNC Wilmington.
Conference Schedule: 27 games, begins March 8.
Conference Tournament: Six teams, May 22-25 at James Madison.
Player of the Year: Bryan Verbitsky, rhp/dh, Hofstra.
Pitcher of the Year: Mat Batts, lhp, UNC Wilmington.
1. Chad Kuhl, rhp, Delaware
2. Bryan Verbitsky, rhp, Hofstra
3. Blaze Tart, rhp, UNC Wilmington
4. Jimmy Yezzo, 1b/dh, Delaware
5. John Farrell, rhp, William & Mary
6. Ty McFarland, 3b/of, James Madison
7. Cole McInturff, of, James Madison
8. Tyler Molinaro, of, UNC Wilmington
9. Matt Soren, rhp, Delaware
10. Anthony Montefusco, rhp, George Mason
1. Terence Connelly, ss, UNC Wilmington (HS--Mineola, N.Y.)
2. Steven Linkous, 3b, UNC Wilmington (HS--Leland, N.C.)
3. Andy Roberts, lhp, Old Dominion (Tr.--Iowa Western CC)
4. Brad Burcroff, c, Northeastern (Tr.--Riverside, Calif. CC)
5. Brandon Gum, ss, George Mason (HS--Woodbridge, Va.)



Georgia State (Sun Belt) and Old Dominion (Conference USA) are in their last seasons in the CAA; both are making the move to the Football Bowl Subdivision, while Virginia Commonwealth just left for the Atlantic-10. College of Charleston comes aboard for 2014. CAA bylaws prohibit Georgia State and Old Dominion from competing in the league tournament in their final season, meaning both teams have to earn an at-large bid if they are to compete in the NCAA tournament. The Monarchs have overhauled their roster under second-year coach Chris Finwood, with seven junior-college transfers and 13 freshmen.

Towson announced plans to cut baseball and men’s soccer to cut costs and help its Title IX numbers. Tigers coach Mike Gottlieb, who is leading the effort to continue the program, is in his 26th season with a 624-662 record and has an experienced team back for what could be the program’s swan song. Sr. RHP Michael Trionfo was just 6-11 in his first two seasons but went 11-3, 3.35 to lead the league in wins last year. The club’s top offensive player from a year ago, Jr. OF Dominic Fratantuono (.301/.464/.464, 10 SB), could make himself an attractive senior transfer with another strong year, but at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, the righthanded hitter is a modest pro prospect.

• The league’s newest head coach is William & Mary’s Jamie Pinzino, who had a successful run at Bryant, taking the Rhode Island program from Division II to Division I. He was dismissed after a postseason altercation with his assistant coach, served as Northeastern’s pitching coach in 2011 and came to the Tribe program as an assistant last year under Frank Leoni, who resigned.

• The league’s most successful head coach over the last decade has been Mark Scalf, who enters his 21st season at UNC Wilmington with five regional bids and only one season below 30 wins since 1999. The Seahawks have a new pitching coach in Robert Woodard, who became North Carolina’s career wins leader when he pitched there from 2005-2008. He inherits a stout staff with crafty Jr. LHP Mat Batts (6-5, 3.04) and a pair of RHPs who were drafted out of high school in So. Jordan Ramsey (4-3, 4.36) and Jr. Blaze Tart, who was just getting on track in 2011 as a reliever when he got hurt and required Tommy John surgery. Tart’s elbow was sound last summer, when he touched 93 and made nine starts.

James Madison has lacked consistency, dropping from 42 wins and a regional trip in 2011 to a 16-35 mark last year, the worst of coach Spanky McFarland’s 15-season tenure. For year 16, his son Jr. 3B Ty McFarland (.330/.449/.422) appears set to blossom after a strong Cape Cod League cameo and added strength. Sr. 2B Bradley Shaban (.260/.372/.409) shifts to the infield after catching last season, which should boost his offensive output. Pitching was last year’s bugaboo, with an unsightly 6.53 ERA. The top six pitchers on the roster, according to the coaching staff, are all sophomores, led by 6-foot-6, 230-pound RHP Patrick Toohers (2-3, 4.29).

Hofstra didn’t quite reach the success of Empire State brethren Stony Brook (College World Series) and St. John’s (super regional), but the Pride set a school record with 34 victories and ranked second in the nation as a team with 157 steals, ranking first with 2.8 per game. All-America OF Danny Poma graduated, but Sr. SS Dalton Rouleau (.328/.428/.497, 26 SB) will again ignite the offense from the top of the order, and DH/RHP Bryan Verbitsky (.322/.473/.552; 1-3, 6.15, 5 SV) is back both for the lineup and as the closer. He’s part of a pitching staff that returns intact, though it lacks a true ace. Sr. RHP David D’Errico will try to return to that role after making 24 starts in his first two seasons. An elbow injury that required surgery limited him to five starts last season.