The Dominican University Stars have set the record for wins in a season in each of the last three seasons after posting an 11-29-1 season in 2004. The Stars' 11 victories eclipsed the record of eight wins set in 2002 and tied in 2003.
"We are always looking to string together more wins than the previous season," said head coach Michelle Oswald. "We have a really scrappy team that will scrape together runs any way we have to find ways to win."
Oswald will look to seniors Cristina Donofrio and Becky Knotek to anchor the infield as well as the Stars' offense. Knotek will begin the season as the Stars' starting first baseman a spot she held the entire 2004 season, hitting a team-best .365 with 24 RBIs. Donofrio, the Stars starting catcher in 2004, hit .320 in the leadoff spot with 39 hits and 12 base-on-balls.
Sophomores Shannan Burke, Tina Gustafson and Lauren Davies will look to round out the Stars infield along with senior Melissa Griffith.
Burke started 36 games at third for Dominican last season before suffering a season ending injury, posting a .225 batting average with 11 RBI in her freshman campaign. In the field, Burke committed just 15 errors on 148 chances at the hot corner for a .900 fielding percentage, with 97 assists and 36 putouts.
Gustafson, Davies and Griffith are all newcomers to the Stars roster in 2005. Gustafson and Griffith will battle for the Stars starting shortstop position while Davies will compete for the Stars' starting job at second base. Griffith, a solid utility player, will also log innings at first base for the Stars in certain situations.
Dominican baseball has a little of everything
The Stars hope that a solid recruiting class coupled with the leadership of a solid core of returners will help bring the team to the next level and compete for the coveted NIIC automatic bid to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
"We have made a commitment to focus on the fundamentals," said head baseball coach Terry Casey. "We have a solid recruiting class with a core of talented freshmen that will complement our returning upper-classmen."
The Stars will turn their attention to seniors Dan Casey, Adam Lotus and Joe Giordano along with junior Mark Higgins.
Casey led the Stars with a .400 batting average in 2004, appearing in 32 games as the Stars primary catcher. Casey was also the Stars leader with 32 RBI, posting a .448 slugging percentage and a .485 on-base percentage.
Junior Mike Palermo and Lotus, the Stars' number two- and one-hitters respectively, were also the Stars' second and third leading hitters. Palermo posted a .397 batting average during his sophomore campaign as an outfielder while Lotus hit .371 with a .457 on-base percentage, scoring a team-high 44 runs.
Higgins was a staple in the Stars' infield, starting 26 games at third and first base in 2004 before an elbow injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season. In 97 at-bats, Higgins logged a .299 batting average with 30 RBI and was the team leader with 12 doubles and three homeruns.
Giordano heads a young pitching staff for the Stars in 2005. Giordano picked up one of the Stars most impressive wins in 2004 with a seven-inning shutout over 21st ranked Baldwin-Wallace in the eighth game of the season. Giordano scattered five hits and no walks over seven innings.
Along with Giordano, sophomores Zach Schrader and Brett Dvorak will join Palermo and Lotus and junior Chris Burns and freshman Mike Eifel on the Stars' pitching staff. Schrader was the Stars' leader in appearances in his freshman season logging 40.1 innings in 18 appearances and going 2-0 in the NIIC.
A press release contributed to this report.