WASHINGTON – The Gallaudet University baseball team hit a speed bump last season after winning 20 or more games three straight years under the direction of head coach Curtis Pride. The Bison had been on the rise in the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) before going 8-29 last year and posting only three wins in conference. GU was plagued by injuries and started a lot of inexperienced players who had to cut their teeth against a tough non-conference schedule.
Coach Pride is optimistic with the returning experienced players and the influx of new talent will bode well for the Bison in 2016.
Gallaudet will be tested; again, going up against nationally ranked team, top in-region teams and face much improved NEAC teams in hopes of returning to the NEAC tournament after a year hiatus.
"I like to play tough teams early in the season to prepare us for the conference schedule," said Pride. "I want our players to see good pitching and make us tougher and ready for NEAC play. Our Spring Break trip to Florida has us going up against a lot of New England schools, so that will be interesting to see how we do against those teams. I look forward to that challenge."
NEAC Record: 3-11
Awards: Eight NEAC Scholar-Athletes; Two NEAC All-Conference Second Team Honors; Two NEAC Baseball Player of the Week Honors; Two NEAC Baseball Pitcher of the Week Honors
Justin Strong (Charlotte, N.C.), Jr., 1B
The junior first baseman from North Carolina started all 37 games last season and was one of the team's best hitter, finishing with a .341 batting average (44 of 129). Strong's 44 hits, seven doubles, 51 total bases and 18 runs-batted-in (RBI) led the team. While playing at first base, he recorded 315 putouts, had 20 assists and committed only six errors, good for a team-high .982 fielding percentage. Strong also was one of two Bison players named to the All-NEAC second team and won two NEAC Baseball Player of the Week honors last season and will be counted on to lead the team this season.
Chase Magsig (Hudsonville, Mich.), Sr., OF
The other Bison named to the All-NEAC second team last season, Magsig returns for his senior campaign as one of the team captains. The outfielder started in all 37 games and hit .339 (41 of 121), good for the second-highest batting average on the team. He finished the season with 17 walks, six doubles, a triple, 49 total bases, and an on-base percentage of .441, the highest mark on the team. Magsig also scored 16 times and drove in eight runs. In the outfield, Magsig recorded 101 putouts, assisted on five other defensive outs and committed only four errors, finishing with a .964 fielding percentage.
Dylan Hayes (Endicott, N.Y.), So., OF/P
Sophomore outfielder/pitcher Hayes had an impressive rookie campaign and will look to build upon that in his second year with the Bison baseball team. Hayes started in all 37 games and posted a batting average of .302 (35 of 116), hitting four doubles, scoring 16 times and drove in 15 runs. He also appeared in 12 games as a pitcher, starting eight and had three complete games, throwing 54.2 innings last season.
Ben Coleman (St. Paris, Ohio), Sr., P
One of only four seniors on the 2016 team, the 6-foot-4 hard-throwing righty, Coleman won two games and posted a 3.13 ERA, the lowest mark among Bison pitchers who started at least one game last season. He appeared in 11 games, starting four, completed two games with one shutout, and struck out 26 batters through 37.1 innings. Coleman will be expected to take on a bigger load and anchor the Bison' rotation this season.
Mitchell Bensman (Russia, Ohio), 2B/3B
Bensman was a four-year letterwinner who started 158 games in a Bison uniform and his reliability, leadership and consistency will be missed this season. Bensman started all 37 games last season, hitting .256 (34 of 133) with two doubles, three triples, accumulated 41 total bases, scored 13 times and drove in 12 runs. Bensman had 50 putouts, assisted on 101 other defensive outs, and committed only eight errors, good for a fielding percentage of .950.
Tom Pangia (Hammonton, N.J.), OF
Despite only playing one year of baseball at Gallaudet, Tom Pangia quickly rose to a regular in the outfield appearing in 29 games, 25 as a starter. Pangia batted .253 (21 of 83) with four doubles, one triple, scored 15 times while driving in 13 runs and accumulated 27 total bases. Pangia had 24 total putouts, assisted on three other defensive outs and finished the season with zero errors.
Cameron Upton (Vicksburg, Miss.), Fr., SS/P
Upton is a very good hitter that has a quick bat, good pop and will hit in the No. 3 spot in the lineup. In the field, Upton is a rangy shortstop that has quick hands and can turn the double play. He can also be a spot starter and is the team's top reliever and has the ability to close games.
Ryan Gilbert (Mount Dora, Fla.), Fr., INF
Gilbert has the potential to be a solid third baseman for the Bison. The crafty infielder can hit but is still green when it comes to college baseball experience. Gilbert has the ability to hit to all fields.
Jeremiah Aut (Green Cove Springs, Fla.), Fr., C
Aut had a minor set back to start the season and will take awhile to get him healthy and in playing shape for the 2016 season. The freshman backstop is a good leader, smart and has a high baseball IQ. He has a good bat and is experienced handling pitching staffs and blocking the plate.
"We are not happy with the way our season went last season. We know we can do better. The guys have been working hard in the offseason and in spring practice. This is probably the best team chemistry we have ever had. I am excited for our potential this season. We will be able to compete for a bid into the NEAC tournament." Curtis Pride, Gallaudet University baseball head coach
- Home Opener/First Game of the Season: vs. Christopher Newport (Thu., Feb. 18)
- RussMatt Invitational at Auburndale/Winter Haven, Fla.: March 12-17
- First Conference Game: at Penn St.-Berks (Sat., April 2)
- Last Home Game/Senior Day: vs. St. Mary's (Md.) (Sun., May 1)
- NEAC Postseason Tournament: May 6-8
The Gallaudet Bison have 40 games scheduled for the 2016 season and with only two players graduating from last season's team, this year's team has one more year of experience under their belt. They will open their 2016 campaign at Hoy Field against non-conference foe Christopher Newport University on Thursday, Feb. 18, at 2 p.m. Gallaudet will next travel to Thomasville, N.C., for three games, playing against nationally-ranked Frostburg State University and two games against Penn St.-Harrisburg before returning home for a 10-game home stretch from Feb. 24 to March 7. This homestand will include games against Marymount (Va.) University (Feb. 24), doubleheaders against University of Valley Forge (Feb. 27), Muhlenberg College (Feb. 28), a game against Washington College (March 3), a doubleheader against Summit University (March 5), Southern Vermont College (March 6), and McDaniel (March 7).
GU then heads south to Florida for its annual Spring Break trip participating in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational tournament with stops in Winter Haven and Auburndale. Gallaudet will play six games against five different schools including Suffolk University (March 12), Becker College (March 13), Springfield College (March 15), Colby-Sawyer College (March 16), Babson College. (March 17).
Upon returning, Gallaudet will host Hood on March 23 before playing a game in a minor league stadium on March 25 against Rivier University under the lights at Regency Stadium, home of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, in Waldorf, Md. The Bison will wrap up the month of March with a road game against Catholic on March 29.
The month of April will see Gallaudet play Maine-Presque Island on Friday, April 1, before starting its conference schedule with a road doubleheader game against Penn St.-Berks on Saturday, April 2. That doubleheader is the first of a nine-game road stretch continuing with a game against nationally-ranked Shenandoah University on April 3, doubleheaders against Lancaster Bible on April 9, SUNY Poly on April 16 and Cazenovia on April 17. Gallaudet will next close out the regular season with a seven-game homestand starting with doubleheaders against Penn College on April 23, Keuka on April 24 and Penn St.-Abington on April 30. The regular season concludes with Senior Day on Sunday, May 1, where Gallaudet will honor its senior letterwinners prior to the game against St. Mary's (Md.) College at 1 p.m.
The expectations are set and the Bison baseball team hopes to make a return trip to the NEAC Tournament this May after a one-year absence.
BISON HOME GAMES
Feb. 18 vs. Christopher Newport, 2 p.m.
Feb. 27 vs. Valley Forge (DH), Noon
Feb. 28 vs. Muhlenberg (DH), Noon
Mar. 03 vs. Washington (Md.), 2:30 p.m.
Mar. 05 vs. Summit (Pa.) (DH), Noon
Mar. 06 vs. Southern Vt., 1 p.m.
Mar. 07 vs. McDaniel, 3 p.m.
Mar. 23 vs. Hood, 3:30 p.m.
Apr. 01 vs. Maine-Presque Isle, 4 p.m.
Apr. 10 vs. Marymount (Va.), 1 p.m.
Apr. 23 vs. Penn College (DH), Noon
Apr. 24 vs. Keuka (DH), Noon
Apr. 30 vs. Penn St.-Abington (DH), 1 p.m.
May 01 vs. St. Mary's (Md.), 1 p.m.