Coming off a breakthrough campaign that saw it register a school-record 34 wins, including a program-best 20 against Colonial Athletic Association rivals, Hofstra’s baseball club entered 2013 with high expectations.
The Pride, which ranked in the top 10 nationally in 11 offensive categories last season including leading the country in stolen bases and doubles per game, has faced some early adversity with the loss of its starting middle infield. Second baseman Matt Ford is out for the year after suffering a torn ACL, while shortstop Dalton Rouleau isn’t expected back until at least the end of April with a torn quad and hamstring.
“We’ve got two huge injuries to overcome,” said Russo, whose team was picked second in the CAA preseason coaches poll behind defending champion UNC-Wilmington.
Hofstra also lost CAA Player of the Year Danny Poma, a 10th round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but returned key cogs in the lineup as well as its entire pitching staff. “Being picked second is a great honor for our team, and one that we now need to live up to on the field,” Russo said. “I am happy that our play has been noticed by the rest of the league because I feel our players have really worked hard to improve.”
In addition to batting .334 a year ago, the Pride set high-water marks for runs (447), hits (669), doubles (145), stolen bases (157), earned run average (5.37), strikeouts (349), and double plays (65.) But losing the production of Ford (.384 average, 50 runs, 48 RBIs, 20 steals) from the No. 3 spot, and Rouleau (.328, 51 runs, 26 steals) at leadoff will make the offensive numbers tough to duplicate.
“At the beginning of the year we seemed really balanced,” Russo said. “I figured we’d get good pitching and play good defense, and if the offense came close to last year we’d be in good shape.”