Last season, the young Tigers overcame a slow start to finish the season with a 27-31 overall record and a 15-15 mark in the CAA. Towson qualified for the CAA Tournament by sweeping a dramatic three-game series from James Madison on the final weekend of the regular season. In the regular season finale, the Tigers came from behind to earn a 5-4 victory in 10 innings, clinching a berth in the CAA playoffs.
In the CAA Tournament, the Tigers went 1-2, beating George Mason while losing to Delaware and Virginia Commonwealth.
Last season, the Tigers were successful with timely hitting, strong relief pitching and an outstanding defense.
In fact, Towson set a school record with its .971 team fielding percentage. The Tigers made only 64 errors in 2,191 fielding chances. Towson also turned 60 double plays, tying the school record.
“We have a chance to be pretty good this season,” says Gottlieb. “As always, it will depend on our pitching. Last year, we became a good offensive team with our situational hitting.”
The Tigers return their entire starting infield from last season as third baseman Zach Fisher, shortstop Hunter Bennett, second baseman Pat Fitzgerald and first baseman Brendan Butler are back.
Fisher, who was named as a Capital One Academic All-America third team selection, had a .965 fielding percentage. He also led the Tigers with a .333 batting average with two home runs and 27 runs batted in. He earned all-tournament honors at the CAA Tournament when he batted .500.
Bennett did a great job defensively at shortstop with a .960 fielding mark. He batted .204 and led the team with 12 sacrifice hits.
An outstanding defensive second baseman, Fitzgerald had a .978 fielding percentage. He made only five errors in 226 fielding chances. Fitzgerald batted .244 and scored 28 runs.
A second team All-CAA selection, Butler batted .308 and led the Tigers with 40 runs scored. He also tied for the team lead with 34 RBI’s and had an impressive .418 on-base percentage. Butler drew 19 walks and was hit by a pitch 20 times to set a school record.
Versatile junior Mike Draper and sophomore Ryne Willard will provide valuable infield depth.
A second team All-CAA selection as a sophomore, senior Andrew Parker returns as a third-year starter at catcher. Another outstanding defensive player, he had a .993 fielding percentage and threw out 30 of 74 base runners trying to steal.
Although Parker struggled offensively last season, he still led the team with 10 doubles and six home runs. He also tied for the team lead with 34 runs batted in. In his career, he has hit 12 home runs with 79 RBI’s.
“We have a good defensive team, especially up the middle,” says Gottlieb. “Andrew Parker is as good as you’re going to find as a college catcher and Zach Fisher had an outstanding defensive season. Hunter and Fitz also work very well together.”
Junior leftfielder Kurt Wertz and junior rightfielder Dominic Fratantuono return in the Tiger outfield.
Despite missing 17 games last year, Wertz batted .259 with nine doubles, five home runs and 24 RBI’s.
Fratantuono was one of the Tigers’ most productive hitters. He batted .301 and led the team in slugging percentage (.494) and on-base percentage (.464). He drew a team high 40 walks and was hit by a pitch 15 times. He also had seven doubles, a team-leading six triples and five homers with 33 RBI’s.
A four-year starter in the outfield, Ben Winter is the only regular starter who graduated off last year’s team. Junior Brandon Gonnella is the likely successor. Gonnella, who also pitches for the Tigers, is coming off an impressive 2012 season. Over the last 10 games, he batted .404 and scored 16 runs. He finished the season with a .283 batting average and had 31 runs scored.
Gonnella also compiled a 3-2 record as a pitcher with a team-leading 2.53 E.R.A. However, he didn’t pitch after April 20 due to an injury.
Senior Cody Reeves and sophomore and Richie Blosser will add depth in the outfield. Blosser should be the Tigers' centerfielder when Gonnella pitches.
Senior Kurtis Voytell will find a spot in the lineup but Gottlieb isn’t sure where he will play. He could be a first baseman with Butler moving to the outfield or he could be the designated hitter.
Last year, Voytell appeared in only 22 games and batted .350. He had one of the Tigers’ biggest hits of the season when he belted a pinch hit homer in ninth inning of the comeback win over Madison in the regular season finale.
Sophomore Peter Bowles, a very versatile player, will add depth at a number of positions. Last season, he started games at six different spots. He batted .295 with two homers and 22 RBI’s.