Steamers Set to Defend Title
EDENTON, NC – It’s never easy to follow up a championship performance, especially one as strong as the Steamers’ 2015 season, but this year’s squad is poised to fill the big shoes left for them.
Last summer’s Steamers captured the East Division title for both the first and second halves of the season, and they were consistently ranked as one of the top five collegiate summer league teams in the country by Collegiate Summer Baseball.
The Clams finished the regular season with an impressive 40-15 record, becoming just the third team in franchise history, and fifth team in Coastal Plain League history to win 40 games in the regular season. Edenton’s outstanding summer, topped off with a Petitt Cup championship, earned the team Perfect Game’s Summer Collegiate Team of the Year honors.
While last year’s team left the incoming players with high expectations, five returners will help set the bar as the Teal and Black gear up for the 2016 season.
Outfielder Tony Rosselli returns to Edenton from Indiana State University, where he continues to have a strong spring for the Sycamores. The redshirt-junior leads his team with nine home runs on the season while slugging .480 and posting a .406 on-base percentage as of May 26. During the 2015 summer, Rosselli collected seven outfield assists en route to the Goodman Glove Award, given out to the Steamers’ most outstanding defender. The Terre Haute, IN, native also contributed offensively, racking up 10 home runs and 30 RBI for the Clams. If there is one thing you’re getting with Rosselli, it is consistency, and Edenton will look for more of the same from him this summer.
The Steamers will also see Trey Hair return for a second summer. The middle infielder only spent a partial season in Edenton last year, but he made an impact during his time with the team. Then a sophomore, Hair knocked in 17 runs while racing out a team-high three triples. The Firth, NE, native continued his offensive production with the University of Evansville this spring, holding a .336 average while slugging .578. Hair also sits third on the Aces roster with nine home runs.
Devan Watts takes the mound in the Teal and Black for a second summer, coming off a quality year at Tusculum College (TN). The junior led the Pioneers’ pitching staff with six saves on the season while fanning 62 batters and walking only 15. Watts helped finish the road to the PetittCup last year, pitching the final inning of the Cup-clinching game against the Gastonia Grizzlies. He has the potential to be a strong arm out of the pen for Edenton again this summer.
Rounding out the Steamers’ returners are pitcher Trevor Houck of Lafayette College (PA) and Stefan Van Horn, a catcher from Washington State University. These two will provide strong battery pieces that should prove to be excellent when called upon. Last summer, Houck turned in strong outings in extended relief, and he could be called upon to do the same this summer, should a starter need relief early. Van Horn showed some pop in his bat last summer, blasting six homers in his time with the Clams.
Aiding the returners are some promising new pieces as well. Drew Faintich, a southpaw out of the University of Central Florida, stymied Great Lakes League hitters last summer, fanning 24 batters while maintaining a 0.42 ERA and 0.80 WHIP through 21.1 innings with the Lima Locos. Richard Cunningham should provide a spark offensively. The redshirt-freshman from Baylor University (TX) slashed .287/.478/.386/.864, adding 19 extra-base hits.
A strong core of returners, surrounded by some new faces that project consistent production, makes the Steamers a formidable foe at the beginning of the new season, and this team certainly seems poised to make a run at back-to-back Petitt Cup Championships.
By Chris Lehman