Welcome back! Appreciate all of you returning in the midst of football season. Incredibly enough, we’re less than a month from first pitch (kudos to Bentley for scheduling some January games in Florida), so I figured I should start getting some offseason roundup/season preview pieces up on here. No promises on the amount of posts I’ll do, but I’ll keep them coming until teams start playing outside up north— we’ll need plenty of reading material when the mild weather inevitably turns into a Day After Tomorrow scene as soon as we try to go outdoors. Anyways, enjoy, and let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to see me spotlight in the run-up to the season.
In Division I, at least, only a handful of programs head into 2016 with new faces on the coaching staff. None of our 18 D1 programs made a head coaching change. (By comparison, four coaches were starting their first full season last year.) Eight teams returned full staffs, and three more added only a new volunteer. College baseball isn’t known for the same volatility as football or basketball in this department, but even then, it was a pretty quiet offseason.
The biggest news came from Kingston, Rhode Island, where Raphael Cerrato had the interim tag lifted to the tune of a four-year contract as head coach at URI. Although the story didn’t break until late June, this didn’t come as much of a surprise. Cerrato, previously an assistant under Jim Foster, took over on a trial basis before last season and exceeded all expectations by winning the Atlantic 10’s Coach of the Year award. The Rams were coming off a down 2014 after some excellent years under Foster, but in Cerrato’s first season, they doubled their win total and reached the A-10 championship game. Freshman lefty Tyler Wilson became the first A-10 pitcher ever to win the Pitcher and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. The Rams return plenty of talent besides Wilson, and they’ll look to be one of the region’s strongest teams in 2016.
Elsewhere, former NECBL head coach Jason Falcon left the head coaching position at Division III Clark to join Greg DiCenzo’s staff at Holy Cross. A Western New England alum and former Holyoke Giants/North Shore Navigators coach, Falcon had been at Clark for 17 seasons and will be taking his first Division I job with the Crusaders.
All three of New England’s America East teams welcomed new blood to their staffs as they look to claim the league’s autobid for New England for the first time since 2011. Division I’s newest New Englanders, UMass Lowell, added assistant Jerod Edmondson and volunteer Vincent Redmond (@redmond643). In 2007, Edmondson spent a year playing there under his new boss Ken Harring before embarking on a playing and coaching career in the independent Can-Am League, where he was a three-time all-star. Northeast-10 junkies may recognize the name of Redmond, who spent four years at Le Moyne, earning all-league honors in 2013. As a coach, he’s spent time in the JuCo ranks and the collegiate summer Valley Baseball League.
Conference rivals Maine added two new faces of their own, with Conor Burke (Coach_Burke10) coming on board as an assistant and Bryce Colbeth (@brycek14) as a volunteer. Burke comes over from another NE-10 New York school, Adelphi, where he helped the Panthers to the latter stages of the NE-10 Tournament in 2015. Colbeth, a Husson alum, makes the jump from the local high school scene.
Rounding out the AEC moves, Hartford welcomed a new assistant in Tim DeJohn (@DeJohn_5). DeJohn, a Western Connecticut alum who spent a year as an assistant with the Colonials after graduating, makes the jump to Division I after a very successful stint on the Connecticut high school scene.
(While we’re on the AEC, I should mention that its conference tournament returns to the Lowell Spinners’ LeLacheur Field for the fourth time in as many years this May. Hosts UML are still a couple years away from postseason eligibility, but Maine is a regular AECT participant, and Justin Blood has had Hartford there the past couple years after a drought that stretched back to the mid-90s. Tickets will be very reasonably priced when they go on sale, and it’s a great opportunity to see high-caliber, win-or-go-home college baseball right here in New England.)
Besides the group mentioned above, six other clubs have made coaching additions for 2016. Bill Currier’s Fairfield program welcomes both a new pitching coach, UConn alum Teddy Hurvul (@TeddyHurvul), and volunteer, former Vermont Catamount Dan Gasparino. In the A-10, former Southern Connecticut assistant Nate Cole (@NateCole33) made the move up I-91 for his first D1 job at UMass, and URI added Elon alum Dylan Clark (@coachdylanclark). Ivies Brown and Harvard both made one addition apiece, with the Bears bringing Bryan Moses aboard from Cal State Northridge, and the Crimson adding former Wofford head man and longtime UMass assistant Ernie May as a volunteer. Finally, Boston College added former Sacred Heart shortstop and Yankees draftee John Murphy as a volunteer (@MurphsLaws).