Baseball is Back: 3-Game Home Stand Against NJIT
After a record-setting 2022 on the diamond, the Davidson Wildcats will open the 2023 campaign Friday against NJIT at 5:30 p.m. at Wilson Field.
It’s the start of a three-game series with the Highlanders and eight straight home games to open the season.
Rucker Taylor, entering his fifth season as head coach and 11th with the program, is encouraged by what he’s seen from his team in the lead-up to Opening Day.
“We’ve gotten better from the fall to the spring and from January until now,” said Taylor, who has led Davidson to a 112-62 mark. “That’s encouraging, and it’s needed. We’re not a finished product, and we’re going to need to keep improving daily, weekly and over the season.”
The Wildcats, 43-13 a year ago, return many key contributors who helped win Davidson’s first outright regular-season conference championship and set the program’s single-season wins mark. And Taylor feels good about the new Wildcats who have joined them on the field.
“We have a chance to have a good offense,” he said. “There’s some depth and potential. In turn, on the other side of the ball, we have some pieces that are going to grow into new roles. If we do a good job with the controllables, we’ll end up in a good spot.”
What does Taylor want to see early on?
“I want us to play with confidence and enjoy the competition,” he said.
Five Wildcats return after earning Atlantic 10 honors last season, including A-10 Player of the Year Michael Carico and A-10 Rookie of the Year Ryan Feczko.
Carico, who has routinely stacked up preseason accolades, returns for his junior season after earning All-America honors from four media outlets and being named theABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove catcher. He led the nation with a .559 on-base percentage and set many Davidson single-season marks, including the on-base percentage, 21 home runs and an .843 slugging percentage. Now one of four team captains, he also hit .406 and drove in 57.
Feczko, a redshirt sophomore, went 10-0 on the mound as the Sunday starter last season, while posting a 3.21 ERA. A lefty, he also earned A-10 Second Team recognition.
Relief pitcher Bennett Flynn, now a senior, returns after earning A-10 First Team honors last season when he compiled a 1.41 ERA, a 3-1 record and six saves. He held opposing hitters to a .150 average and struck out 58 while walking 17.
Senior shortstop and junior first baseman Ryan Wilson are back after earning A-10 Second Team honors and are the only returners who started all 56 games a year ago (they also drove in 56 runs apiece). Wilson was second only to Carico with a .366 average and was an all-around offensive threat, with 18 doubles, eight home runs and 18 steals. Hinderleider, a captain, hit .336, led the Wildcats with 28 multi-hit and 19 multi-RBI games, and his 12 home runs are second-most among Wildcat returners.
Four other veterans return after also starting double-digit games last season, led by senior outfielder Henry Koehler, who started 52 times and hit .313. Junior Jake Wilhoit is back after making 46 starts at second base, sophomore catcher/DH Jacob Friend made 25 starts (and earned A-10 All-Championship Team honors) and junior Tyler Douglas was in the lineup 16 times between the outfield and DH.
On the mound, the Wildcats will have two new weekend starters joining Feczko in the rotation. Senior captains Will Schomberg and Ryan Kutz seem poised to fill those roles. A right-hander, Schomberg made 21 relief appearances last season and posted a 4.42 ERA and a 4-2 record with two saves in 55.0 innings. Kutz, also a righty, was 2-1 with a 3.10 ERA in 18 appearances (with 3 starts) and 40.2 innings. Taylor credits him for getting the Wildcats jump-started midway through last season’s opening series with Lehigh.
Another option could be sophomore lefty Isaac Fix, who posted a 3.60 ERA in 25.0 innings last season. Junior Nick Shedleski (RHP) and senior Jacob Peaden (RHP) also started games last year and made 10 and 12 appearances, respectively.