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Baseball has high hopes for new season

The 2010 Raider baseball team. Photo courtesy of RayRodImages.com.

Expectations are high for the Seminole State College of Florida Raider baseball team. After laying the groundwork in 2009, the squad has its sights set on a 2010 conference title.

"Last year, we established the direction of our program and instilled core values in our players like responsibility and accountability," says second-year Head Coach Chris Hayes. "This year, I expect us to build on those successes and take it all the way to the Mid-Florida Conference Championship."

Getting there won't be easy, with tough in-conference competitors like Santa Fe College, the NJCAA's 2009 national runner up. But Hayes says his squad can make it happen if they "play hard every day and remember to have fun in the process."

"Our focus this season is on execution," he says. "Our biggest opponent — the thing we will prepare for all year — isn't a team; it's the game itself."

The Roster

The 2010 Raiders are a young squad, with 16 freshmen and only seven returners. Despite their inexperience, Hayes says his rookies are performing well and adjusting quickly to college-level baseball.

"Our veterans have shown tremendous leadership qualities and have really helped the freshmen learn the ropes," he says. "They understand what it takes to win and have been a great influence on the rest of the team."

Leading the Raiders:

Pitcher Josh Culler dons the Raiders' new home uniform. Photo courtesy of RayRodImages.com.
  • Starting pitchers Josh Culler and Jacob Newberry. Culler, a sophomore from Newark, Del., is expected to be a key contributor for Seminole State. Newberry, a freshman from Eagle Lake, has demonstrated a lot of potential and is already making an impact on the team.
  • Relief pitcher Ryan Fitzpatrick, a sophomore from Jacksonville, who will play an important role in Seminole State's success out of the bullpen.
  • Starting catcher Doug Freeman, a sophomore from Lakeland, and his backup, Luis "Gabby" Juarbe, a freshman from Puerto Rico. Hayes credits both for their "excellent job handling pitchers."
  • Sophomores Mike Diorio, an infielder from Clermont; Tyler Herrington, an infielder/outfielder from Thonotosassa; Anthony Boix, an infielder from Miami; and Alex Hudak, an infielder/outfielder from Sorrento. "These are all great ball players," Hayes says. "We will rely heavily on their leadership and ability to change the game."

Seminole State, formerly Seminole Community College, opened the 2010 season with a 6-1 home loss to Northwest Florida State College on Friday, Jan. 29. Along with a new name, the team debuted new white and navy uniforms.

The Raiders quickly recovered from the loss, notching a 9-4 road win over Broward College on Jan. 31. The matchup, originally scheduled as a doubleheader, was shortened to a single game due to Broward player injuries.

This week, the team will play three games on the road before returning home for another Broward College doubleheader on Feb. 7.

Conference play begins March 3 against Daytona State College.

All home games are free for Seminole State students, faculty and staff with a valid College ID. Admission is also available to the general public for a nominal fee.

"This year's team will be characterized by their athleticism, preparation and ability to execute the routine plays," Hayes says. "We have a very challenging start to the season, but our guys have the talent to pull it off."

For more information and to view the complete season schedule, please visit the Raider baseball home page.

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