Trapped indoors due to poor weather conditions didn’t help the Pride get out of the gate quickly, Russo said. It took a 3-8 record into CAA play. “Last year we were outside 12 times before our first game,” he explained. “This year we weren’t outside until we stepped on the field against Oklahoma. It’s part of the reason why we haven’t played well yet.”
The offense is led by senior first baseman Jared Hammer, who led the CAA with 66 RBIs last season and hit .476 on the way to earning First Team All-CAA honors. The clean-up batter just completed a remarkable stretch of 66 consecutive games reaching base. “Jared’s a patient hitter who can hit any type of pitching,” Russo said. “He’s so confident with two strikes.”
Junior outfielder Kenny Jackson (.344, 51 RBIs) is another First Team All-CAA selection. He’s off to a solid start with three homers. “It took a little while for Kenny to realize he can be one of the best hitters in the park every game he plays,” Russo said. “He was consistently good last season, and he’s carrying our offense so far.”
The return of senior infielder Joe Perez, who missed last year with an injury after a strong 2011 campaign, and addition of junior transfer Rob Cafiero, became even more important following the injuries to Ford and Rouleau. Senior Austin Nyman has provided a spark in the early going while playing the outfield and second base, and senior outfielder Chris Nardo is getting a look at the top of the lineup.
While the defense up the middle is a work in progress, the Pride features a difference-maker behind the plate in junior catcher Matt Reistetter. “He’s absolutely stopped other team’ running game,” Russo said of Reistetter, who erased six of nine would-be base-stealers through the first 11 games. “He calls all the pitches and is a big key to the puzzle.”