[Ed's Note: reference to William Chapman, shown below in blue].
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Gallaudet University baseball program reached new heights last season as the Bison broke the school record for wins in a season that stood for over a century and advanced to the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) tournament in their first year in the new conference. The Bison and head coach Curtis Pride are ready to pick-up where they left off last season as the buff and blue prepares for their 2012 campaign. Gallaudet, who posted a 17-25 record overall and went 8-6 in the NEAC last year, has its sights set on a conference championship and making the NCAA tournament.
If the Bison are going to achieve their goals in 2012 they will need to improve on their defense, pitching and stay healthy during a challenging 39-game schedule.
"Our main goal is to win the conference championship. We were so close last year. It was a tough loss for us because we knew we had a chance to win the conference championship. Our defense is what hurt us," said Pride, who enters his fourth season at the helm. "That's why I am excited about this year because our defense has improved a lot from last year."
Gallaudet led the NEAC in scoring and offense with a .289 team batting average, .378 slugging percentage, .388 on base percentage and were second in runs (238), hits (350), runs batted in (210), doubles (68), triples (11), total bases (458) and third in home runs (six). On the flipside, the Bison ranked last in the conference in errors with 96 while their .930 fielding percentage was ranked 339th out of 367 NCAA Division III teams. The GU pitching staff posted a 5.68 earned run average, seventh best in the NEAC, and walked 171 batters in 301 innings pitched.
"We learned last year [first in the NEAC] that we can't make mistakes on defense against our conference opponents because they will capitalize on our errors. Plus, there are some good [pitching] arms in this league," said Pride. "Now we are more prepared. We know every conference game is important because only the top four teams make the playoffs. For us our goal is to get the No. 1 seed so we can host the conference tournament here."
If the Bison do clinch the top seed the conference tournament will be played on the new Hoy Field that is currently under construction. The project began last fall and is slated to be completed in March. GU will play its first few 'home' games at nearby Riverdale Park in Maryland.
"It is very important for the Gallaudet University baseball program to invest in recruiting tools to bring in quality players. In the past we have had a horrible field and that was another reason why we made so many mistakes [on defense]. Now that we will have field turf so we don't have to worry about weather," said Pride.
Hoy Field will also be the future home for the D.C. Grays, the tenth team in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League, who will play during the summer months.
"This is great for the community because it gives local teams a chance to use our field especially the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. The new field is great for D.C.," added Pride.
The Bison return experience along with some new talented players to its pitching staff this season. Gallaudet pitching coach Andre Rabouin has been working exclusively with the Bison pitchers to stress the importance of throwing strikes and trusting the improved defense behind them.
"We walked too many guys last year. Our pitchers were trying to be too picky around the plate. We need to keep the ball down because we left too many pitches up and we got hit hard when we did that," said Pride. "Andre has been working with his guys everyday fine tuning their mechanics and working on their grips of various pitches and building their confidence."
Senior pitcher/outfielder William Chapman (Los Angeles, Calif.) is the ace of the staff as the transfer from University of California Santa Barbara returns for his second season with the Bison. He was named to the Jewish Sports Review All-American first team for college baseball at the Division II, III and NAIA levels last year along with being selected to the All-NEAC second team. Chapman took to the mound 13 different times in 2011, started nine games, and posted a 2-5 record with a 4.55 ERA. He led the team with 40 strikeouts in 59.1 innings as opponents batted .262 against him.
"I expect great things from him this season," said Pride on Chapman. "He has improved a lot from last year."
The Bison rotation will feature some new faces in senior transfer Jeremy Adams (Glenn Dale, Md.), sophomore Marcus Smith (Baltimore, Md.) and freshman Brandon Holsworth (Beal City, Mich.).
Adams, a 6-foot-4 right-hander, pitched previously at Alabama State University (Division I) and Washington Adventist University (Division II). Smith comes to Gallaudet from Baltimore City Community College.
"Jeremy knows how to pitch, he has great movement on his pitches. He is going to help us a lot this year," said Pride. "Marcus and Brandon both need to get experience at this level but they both have good arms."
Senior Ryan Hastings (Cherry Valley, Mass.) is the lone four-year letterwinner and left-handed pitcher on the team. Hastings is the workhorse of the staff as he made 16 appearances last season, 11 starts, as he logged 71.2 innings and posted a 3-9 record. He will start and work in relief for the Bison.
Junior Layton Seeber (Champaign, Ill.) and sophomore Tyler Crace (Westfield, Ind.) will join the team after the conclusion of the men's basketball season. Both saw time on the mound last year as they combined to make 17 appearances and seven starts. Freshman Justin Wiener (Woodbine, Md.) is come along slowly this season as he overcomes some arm issues while fellow freshman Larry Kohler (Union City, Calif.) gives the Bison much needed depth in the bullpen. Source: Gallaudet University