Cardinals ready to begin new season this weekend

Cardinals ready to begin new season this weekend

WASHINGTON – With temperatures feeling very spring-like of late, the CUA baseball team will get its 2012 season started this weekend when the Cardinals travel to face Mary Washington.  The defending Landmark Conference champions, CUA is coming off a year in which it won 23 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

CUA brings back a number of players that were part of last season's run to the NCAA Tournament, including All-Conference selections Tim Mierzwa, Dave Grear, Matt Grieb and Brendan Breslin

Mierzwa batted .313 a season ago, while Grieb and Grear tied for the team lead in RBIs with 32 apiece.  Breslin meanwhile, hit .293 with 43 hits and 21 runs batted in.

Also returning for the Cardinals are Mark Kalokitis, who led the team in hitting with a .342 average, Marc Hanna, who hit .324 and doubled as CUA's closer, Dan Sullivan (.306, .967 fielding percentage), and Chris McCloud (.274, eight doubles).

CUA did lose its top pitcher, Ron Esposito, from a season ago, but Robin Mowatt (5-3, 3.84 ERA) and Andrew Carroll (64.0 IP, 37 Ks) return to form a strong one-two punch at the front of the rotation.  Mowatt and Carroll both started games for CUA at last year's NCAA Tournament.

Other returning hurlers include Hanna, who saved a team-high five games, Tom Egan, Thomas Travaglia, Justin D'Alessandro, Adam Schroth, Rob Steinkopf, and Rob Renzi.

Head Coach Ross Natoli, now in his 27th season as the Cardinals skipper, enters this year with 483 career victories.  He once again has brought in a deep and talented group of freshmen that will push for immediate playing time, and he'll also rely on a defense that led the Landmark Conference in fielding percentage a season ago (.954 in 44 games).

Sunday's game between CUA and Mary Washington is slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch.  The two teams played twice last season, with Mary Washington winning both contests.

Following Sunday's game, CUA will play six straight games at home before embarking on its annual spring break trip.  The Cardinals home opener is set for Wednesday, February 22 when they play host to Messiah at 3 p.m.

Senior Dave Grear discusses what CUA has been up to during the preseason and also looks ahead to the early portion of the 2012 season in the video below.