HC baseball team continues promising development

Release Date:
March 10, 2008
The Office of Sports Information
(716) 649-7900 ext. 333

’08 season preview

HAMBURG, NY - After an improved 5-25 mark in 2007, the Hilbert College baseball team’s future is looking excitingly bright as the 2008 season quickly approaches. Second-year head Coach Rob Gladwell eagerly awaits the upcoming season and will be counting on a youth movement as his first recruiting class settles into place. “We have a great deal of young talent heading into this season and as long as these guys buy into our system, I am confident we will surprise a lot of people,” states Gladwell.

Despite the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference’s (AMCC) preseason coaches’ poll tabbing the Hawks tenth, Gladwell is confident this year’s team can step up its efforts. “Last season’s team was better than the ’06 squad and I look for this team to continue that trend of improvement,” noted the Hawks’ skipper. “We’ll be counting on guys to stay positive and believe in one-another in order to meet challenges throughout the season.”

Six players return from the 2007 roster indicating a majority of the team will be young, but not necessarily short on experience. 2008 captains Matt Shoepflin (Chaffee, NY/Holland), Keith Somerville (Holland, NY/Holland) and Kevin Murphy (Buffalo, NY/Bishop Timon), will be counted on heavily for leadership on and off the field. Shoepflin finished the 2007 campaign as the team leader in batting average (.295), RBIs (18) and pitching ERA (6.68). He is scheduled to be the Hawks opening day starter on the mound and brings a solid bat to the plate. Somerville, a 28-game starter last spring, tied for the team lead in steals (4). Opponents can look for him in centerfield and behind the plate on defense. Second on the team in batting a year ago after hitting .292, Murphy will head the list of this year’s catchers.

Sophomores Dave Cunningham (Cheektowaga, NY/St. Mary’s), Matthew Begeal (Northville, NY/Wells) and Paul Pitz (Callicoon, NY/Sullivan West) return after a year of seasoning and bring outfield-playing experience. Cunningham started 23 games while also tossing 14 innings for the Hawks. This spring the right-hander will focus on second base with mound duty in a relief capacity. Begeal played in 29 games last year both as an outfielder and pitcher. He will reprise his role in left field and move to a starting role in the Hawks pitching rotation. Pitz has shown signs of improvement during the pre-season and should be the team’s opening day right fielder. The lefty will also be counted on to come out of the bullpen.

Nine new faces join the Hawks highlighted by juniors Brandon Brown (Lyndonville, NY/L.A. Webber) and Matt Nash (Green Island, NY/Catholic Central). Brown is a transfer from Genesee Community College and is penciled in as the Hawks first baseman when not in the pitching rotation. Nash’s ability to be productive from the plate will get him into the lineup as a catcher and outfielder.

Other newcomers include sophomore Thomas Rivera (Hamburg, NY/North Collins) and freshmen Frank Simmeth (Cheektowaga, NY/Maryvale), Ryan LaCorte (Sloan, NY/JFK), Andrew Lotocki (Hamburg, NY/Frontier), Eric Davies (Tonawanda, NY/Tonawanda), Jake Simonick (Orchard Park, NY/Orchard Park) and Rob Tober (Amherst, NY/Amherst). Both Simmeth and LaCorte had very good spring workouts and will see time on the mound in addition to starting on the left side of the infield. Lotocki will be a member of the Hawks’ starting pitching rotation while Davies, Simonick and Tober will all see time in the outfield.

Hilbert starts the season with a three-game set at future AMCC member Franciscan University on March 15th. The 2008 home opener against conference foe Mount Aloysius College is scheduled for March 22nd.

Hilbert College, located in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., south of Buffalo, is a private four-year college founded in 1957 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition. With nearly 1,100 students, Hilbert is a dynamic Western New York college that offers career-focused majors, including one of the top criminal justice programs in the region, and more than 50 minors and concentrations. The college’s engaging, student-centered campus community offers numerous leadership, internship, and service learning opportunities from which students launch successful careers while making positive changes in their communities. The Hilbert Blueprint promotes a well-rounded student experience over four years – starting with the Foundations Seminar in the freshman year, followed by Sophomore Service, Junior Symposium, and culminating with the Senior Capstone. Hilbert has expanded its academic offerings with the college’s first graduate programs and new Accelerated Degree Programs geared to adult learners.