Baseball Monarchs Open Season Friday Night Against Navy

February 09, 2004
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Feb. 9, 2004


Pitching and defense will be the name of the game for this year's Monarch squad. Head Coach Tony Guzzo, who won his 700th career collegiate game last year, returns 14 lettermen including the top three starting pitchers, one of which was a silver medallist on the USA Pan Am squad and the CAA's second best base stealer.

Pre-season All-American and junior righthander Justin Verlander (Goochland, VA.) fanned a school record 139 batters in just 116.1 innings for the Monarchs last year. Over the summer Verlander, an All-CAA performer, compiled a 5-1 record and helped team USA win a silver medal in the Pan Am games. Verlander ranked 24th nationally in strikeouts per game at 10.7 to go along with his 2.40 earned run average.

Also returning on the mound for the Monarchs are Ricky Shefka (Kinston, NC.), James Burok (Archbald, PA.), Jason Godin (Stafford, VA.), and Donnie Smith (Portsmouth, VA.) who will probably pick up the relievers role. Smith was Pitcher of-the-Year in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League last summer.

Leading the list of returning position players is junior outfielder Evan Chipman (Raleigh, NC.). Last year, Chipman hit .340 and ranked second in the CAA and 25th nationally in stolen bases with 25. Chipman set a new single season ACBL stolen base record with 54 last summer. In the infield, senior Allen Strick (Glen Burnie, MD.) will be at third. Strick hit .288 with 24 runs batted in last season. Sophomores Stephen Harris (Virginia Beach, VA.), Keith Hahn (Valley Stream, NY.) and senior Derek James (Terre Haute, IN) round out the returning outfielders.

The Monarchs also return shortstop Jesse Schoendienst (Belcamp, MD.), secondbaseman Joe Moore (Woodbridge, VA.), firstbaseman Dana Arrowood (Woodbridge, VA.), and infielder Justin Gregula (Washington,PA).

Guzzo and his staff brought in 12 newcomers for the upcoming season. They include: freshmen Tyler Belcher (Bristol, VA.), Brian Binder (Washington, PA.), Andrew Bucher (Virginia Beach, VA.), Bryan Cipolla (Plainview, NY.), Jimmy Greene (Poquoson, VA.), Hunter Hall (Virginia Beach, VA.), Adam Hodge (Chesapeake, VA.), Joseph Johannes (Virginia Beach, VA.), C.J. Lee (Bristol, VA.), Billy Marn (Yorktown, VA.), and Brooks Sinnen (Virginia Beach, VA.).

Junior college transfers include Eric Mesa (Miami, FL.),and Brandon Carter (Sacramento, CA.), who should both vie for starting positions at second and shortstop, while Kenneth Gram (Tempe,AZ) should do the same at the catcher's position.

This year's Monarch schedule will feature 32 home games. Visiting the Bud Metheny Baseball Complex for three-game series will be Rutgers, Navy, Princeton and Kent State. Single game visitors will include George Washington, Radford, Norfolk State, Richmond, Liberty, VMI, N.C. State and Virginia. ODU will play in The Citadel Classic Feb. 20-22 against West Virginia, Richmond and host Citadel.

Rutgers, N.C. State, Princeton, Richmond, and CAA rivals VCU and UNC Wilmington competed in last year's NCAA Tournament.

On April 6, the Monarchs will play their annual game with the Norfolk Tides, AAA Affiliate of the New York Mets in the Bank of the Commonwealth Classic at Harbor Park.

This year everyone in the CAA will play each other. The Monarchs will host three- game league series against Towson, Virginia Commonwealth, William and Mary, and Hofstra. ODU will travel to George Mason, Delaware, James Madison and UNC Wilmington. This year's CAA baseball championships will be held at Brooks Field in Wilmington, NC.

1b Brian Cipolla
2b Eric Mesa
ss  Brandon Carter
3b  Allen Strick
C  Ken Gram/ Evan Chipman
LF  Derrick James/C.J. Lee
CF  Evan Chipman/Joe Moore
RF   Steven Harris
DH  Justin Gregula

PROBABLE ROTATION Friday - Justin Verlander Saturday - James Burok Sunday - Andrew Bucher