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CF Baseball Preview
January 20, 2014By Richard Burton of COLLEGE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA
Courtesy of CF Sports Information
The College of Central Florida baseball program has been a model of consistency under coach Marty Smith.
Since 2003, the Patriots have just one losing season and have been a consistent fixture for supremacy in the Mid-Florida Conference.
This time around, the Patriots hope to continue the trend, as they bring a solid group of returning players back to mix with some standout newcomers.
“I’m excited about the season” Smith said. “We’ve got a real good group of kids.
“We’ve got 16 guys with a 3.0 (grade-point-average) or better and a 3.07 GPA. They’re good students and they really work hard on-and-off the field.”
Leading the way for CF is Enderson Velasquez, who hit .331 and knocked in 33 runs from his shortstop position.
“He had a good fall both hitting and fielding,” Smith said. “He’s improved a lot and we’re going to go as he goes.
“He’s going to be our three-hole hitter and he works really hard and loves the game. “We’re expecting some big things out of him and he plays the game the right way.”
Joining Velasquez as key returning players for the Patriots are Collin Woody (3B), Josh Ellzey (1B), Robby Jolley (C/CF), David Lugo (OF) and Ryan Smith (RF).
Woody, who hit .269 last season and knocked in 30 runs for the Patriots, is being pushed in the preseason by Ben Ellzey, Josh’s brother.
Josh Ellzey led the Patriots in home runs last season with two and hit .299 with 15 RBI.
Lugo, meanwhile, had a team-high 15 extra-base hits and knocked in 23 runs with a .298 average.
Smith, who is battling with Christian Khawam for the right field spot, hit .286 with 22 RBI a year ago.
Jolley, one of several Forest High School products on the team, will split time between center field and catcher, a spot he earned all-conference recognition last season.
“We’ve got pretty good depth and I like our two-deep at most positions,” Smith said. “I was real pleased with the fall, especially defensively. We swung the bat O.K., but I was really pleased with the way we fielded the ball.
“Our pitching was good, but we still have to improve, but overall I was happy with the fall.”
One of the newcomers to watch for the Patriots is Dalton Martinez, who was drafted in the 31st round of the Major League Draft last summer.
His father, Dave, is a former Major League standout with multiple teams and the current bench coach for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Dalton Martinez will see time in certain and leads a talented group of incoming players for the Patriots.
A.J. Elkins (OF), Justin Ambrosino (1B) are players who should provide quality depth for CF.
The place where the Patriots will look much-different from a year ago is on the mound, as they have basically a new pitching staff.
Gone are the likes of Joe Marotta (9-3, 3.40 ERA, now at UCF), Eric Bauer (3-5, 3.00 ERA) and Colby Wisdom, but a solid group of young arms will look to help CF improve on its 29-23 record from a year ago.
“We’re pretty young on the mound,” Smith said. “We don’t have many wins back from last year.
“We’ve got to get better on the mound and develop in the pre-conference part of our schedule.”
The starting rotation will start with Mike Cetta, Boomer Biegalski, Hunter Halsey and Weston Pope.
Cetta was cited by Smith for his pitching effort in the fall, while Pope threw 35 1/3 innings last season for CF.
In the bullpen, Jake Ganglehoff is back after hurling 18 2/3 innings as a freshman, as is Kenny McDonald, who went 2-1 with a two saves and a 3.75 ERA.
McDonald is the favorite to be the team’s closer, while Ganglehoff will assume the role of the setup man.
“I like what we have offensively and defensively,” Smith said. “I think we’re going to hit and score runs and on the mound we’ve got to develop some depth in the bullpen and find some guys who can finish out games.
“Overall, I am looking forward to this season. This is a good group of kids that works very hard.”
College of Central Florida
Coach: Marty Smith (20th year, 571-426-4 overall record)
Last year’s record; 29-23 overall, 11-13 in the Mid-Florida Conference.
Top returning players: Enderson Velasquez, SS; Collin Woody, 3B; Ryan Smith, OF; David Lugo, OF; Josh Ellzey, 1B; Robby Jolley, C/CF; Kenny McDonald, P; Weston Pope, P; Jake Ganglehoff, P.
Key losses: Joe Marotta, Colby Wisdom, Darren Fischer, Kevin Games, Eric Bauer, Matt Delay.
Top newcomers: Dalton Martinez, Mike Cetta, Boomer Biegalski, Hunter Halsey.
Home opener: January 31 vs. Pensacola, 3 p.m.