Season Preview: Pitchers and Catchers
A year after losing seven of nine starters around the diamond to either graduation or the MLB Draft, last season was a rebuilding campaign for the St. Bonaventure baseball team.
Many of those growing pains were felt on the infield where every position had a new player in 2018.
This season, the Bonnies look for some big improvements defensively.
"There's no doubt we will be stronger defensively on the infield," St. Bonaventure head coach Larry Sudbrook said of a group that returns several returning players.
"In a perfect world, we put things together and make a run at an A-10 tournament spot," Sudbrook said. "We think the 2020 team is going to be really solid, but this is a team that could be like the 2016 team that really takes steps forward and takes it down to the last weekend with a chance to get into the tournament. That was a team that had guys that were top of the league the following year as juniors and seniors, but by the end of the previous year they were pretty good. We're looking for some of our guys this year to take steps like those guys did."
Senior Brandon Henshaw is a returning starter – but will be at a new position this spring.
Henshaw, a junior college All-American while at Genesee CC, played in 41 games last year primarily at shortstop. This season, though, he will slot at first base, a place he finished 2018.
"Hench swings the bat well and he's slid over to first seamlessly," Sudbrook said. "He's been good defensively."
Backing up Henshaw is sophomore Matthew Williams who appeared in 10 games last year and provides a left-handed bat for Sudbrook.
Redshirt junior Alexander Ferlenda took advantage of a late season audition at second base last year and will begin 2019 as the starter. Ferlenda started 10 of his 20 games played last year.
"He had some solid games when we started looking at people late in the year," Sudbrook said.
Ferlenda also enjoyed a strong summer, earning a spot on the New York Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Team for the second straight year.
Redshirt senior Ryan O'Connor again provides depth around the diamond – he has played second base, shortstop and all outfield positions during his time with the team. Last year, he hit .278 with a .357 on-base percentage.
"He has played just about everywhere at one time or another," Sudbrook said. "He gives us speed off the bench and is a lefty who can drag bunt and push bunt."
Junior Jeff Palczewski returns for his second season at the hot corner after starting 34 of 37 games last year. He hit .278 with 19 RBIs with a .357 on-base percentage during his first year with the program.
"We had him get 150 at-bats last year and a lot of innings and he's much improved," Sudbrook assessed.
The lone new face on the infield is one that actually was with the program last year – junior Kevin Higgins takes over at shortstop after spending last year with the team, sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules.
"He has some pop in his bat and good range and good arm strength," Sudbrook said of Higgins, who had a solid summer playing down the road with the Olean Oilers of the NYCBL.
Freshman Branden Myers brings an Atlantic 10 ready glove with Sudbrook offering defensive comparisons to former shortstop Cole Peterson, now with the Detroit Tigers organization. Myers will figure in as a backup at short this spring.
The Bonnies open the 2019 season March 2 with the first of seven games in Florida.
- By Scott Eddy, Director of Athletics Communications
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