Upperclassmen will rule the outfield for the St. Bonaventure baseball team this spring.
In centerfield, senior Sam Fuller has played in 86 career games and enjoyed his best season last year, starting 34 of 39 games played while hitting .282 with team highs in runs (24) and stolen bases (13). Away from the field, he was named to the Google Cloud CoSIDA Academic All-America teams.
"He played some as a freshman, more as a sophomore and was a regular as a junior," Bonnies head coach Larry Sudbrook said. "He's a plus-defensive centerfielder and will start the year batting leadoff. He has some pop in his bat and great speed."
Another senior, Mike Magnanti will be the starter in right field.
In his first season with the program last year, he started 42 of the team's 43 games, primarily at second base before making the move to the outfield in the final weeks of the season. He is the team's leading returner with a .321 batting average a year ago, adding a team-best .422 on-base percentage, six stolen bases, 23 runs and 12 RBIs.
"We moved him to the outfield in the last 10 games of last year and he was our best hitter last year," Sudbrook said. "He always provides good at-bats, puts the ball in play and uses the whole field. He's a gritty guy."
With those two positions decided heading into the start of the year, left field remains a battle. During the team's trip to Florida, sophomore Tyler Kelder and graduate transfer Nolan Hayward will battle for the spot. The player that doesn't win the left field job will likely be the DH in the majority of games.
Kelder, primarily the team's DH last season, drove in 17 runs in 130 at-bats as a freshman. He was an all-star during summer ball, playing with the Saugerties Stallions of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.
Hayward played in 51 games over the past three seasons with Bryant University where he was a career .306 hitter with a .359 on-base percentage.
Senior Alex Schutz returns with the ability to play at any of the three outfield spots.
"He's a plus defender at any defensive spot and is with Fuller as the fastest kids on the team," Sudbrook said.
Fellow senior Jake Foden brings some pop off the bench from the left side and will be one of the team's top pinch hitters.
The coaching staff has high hopes for the future of freshman Christian Szablewski, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound right-handed bat who showed big power ability during the fall.
The Bonnies open the 2019 season March 2 with the first of seven games in Florida.
Stay connected with St. Bonaventure athletics through social media. Follow the Bonnies on Twitter @GoBonnies and get baseball updates @BonniesBaseball. Keep up with the Bonnies on Facebook /GoBonnies and on Instagram @GoBonnies.