LANCASTER, Pa. - After making a return to the Centennial Conference (CC) Tournament last season, Franklin & Marshall's 2019 baseball team welcomes back plenty of firepower from one of the program's most-prolific offenses a year ago. Combine that with two of the Conference's best starting pitchers, and the Diplomats have the potential to vie for a CC Title.
To watch the season preview video, featuring head coach Ryan Horning, click here.
The journey beings on Feb. 23-24 with three games down south, including the 2019 opener against Guilford (11:00 a.m.) and Greensboro (3:30 p.m.) on Saturday and an early test against the nation's No. 3 team Randolph-Macon on Sunday (1:00 p.m.).
Last year's team went 1-2 in the CC Postseason with a 9-1 triumph over Muhlenberg to finish 2018 with the program's third winning season in the last four years at 19-18-2, 10-7-1 CC.
Gone to graduation is dynamic leadoff hitter and All-CC First Team centerfielder Kengo Kawahara, utility man Jimmy Whelan, and staples of the pitching rotation in Mike Androconis and Andrew Mascis.
However, seven regulars from the lineup are welcomed back in the fold, including senior first baseman Dan Marano, who proved to be one of the Conference's most-dangerous hitters on his way to becoming F&M's first CC Player of the Year honoree since 2006.
Seven first years will fight for playing time, including four who are expected to battle for spots on the mound.
To watch a video roster of the 2019 team, click here.
Top Returners (Batting Order)
Dan Marano | Sr. | 1B | .411/.452/.589 – 5 HRs, 43 RBIs, 12 2Bs
Danny Blugis | Sr. | C | .228/.265/.315 – 6 2B, 10 RBIs, 3 BBs
Justin Cavegn | Jr. | 2B | .291/.344/.327 – 2 2B, 3 BBs, 2 SBs
Don DiLoreto | So. | DH | .306/.391/.431 – 6 2B, 14 RBIs, 10 BBs
J.J. Freeman | So. | SS | .287/.382/.367 – 3 3Bs, 22 RBIs, 19 BBs
Matthew Kann | So. | RF | .296/.381/.389 – 6 2Bs, 19 RBIs, 11 BBs
Kelsey Launi | So. | LF | .271/.347/374 – 6 2Bs, 16 RBIs, 13 BBs
*Slash line indicates (AVG/OBP/SLG)
Top Returners (Starting Pitchers)
Milestones to Watch
Marano has notched 142 hits in his career, a mark that places 12th all-time. David Iacobucci '17 leads the way with 181. With 27 career doubles, Marano places 12th. Scott Haft '05 tops the category with 45. His seven home runs are good for ninth among career leaders with Haft pacing the field with 14. Marano's 92 RBIs are ninth all-time with Jason Anderson '10 leading the list with 108.
Head coach Ryan Horning enters the season just two shy of the 100-wins milestones.
A Look at Hampden-Sydney
Hampden-Sydney was picked to finish fifth in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) after finishing with a 17-21 overall record and 10-10 mark in the ODAC last season. The Tigers return 20 lettermen, including seven position starters, along with eight pitchers. Off to a strong 2-1 start in 2019, Hampden Sydney downed Averett 12-4 on Monday.
The Road Ahead
The Diplomats face five teams on their schedule that either ranks or received votes in Collegiate Baseball's Preseason Poll.
F&M's opening home competition features a doubleheader against William Paterson on March 23, beginning at 12:00 p.m. Centennial Conference (CC) action opens against McDaniel on March 30 with a pair of games starting at noon, while the CC Tournament is set for May 2-5.
Look for the icon below, which can be accessed at the top-right of the 2019 baseball schedule when viewed on your computer, or bottom-left of all schedules on your mobile device.
Centennial Conference Digital Network (CCDN)
The Centennial Conference announced a partnership with Stretch Internet to become the conference's digital network provider and establish a central location for all CC athletic events. Broadcasts that are present in the Stretch portal are exclusively produced by each of the 11-member institutions of the conference.
In addition to its Roku channel, the Conference will have three new over-the-top (OTT) applications to make broadcasts available – Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Android TV. Home broadcasts that are produced by all 11 members will be available on CentennialConference.TV and the OTT apps.
Follow Along (Social Media)
All of your favorite Diplomat athletic teams are available on social media. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram, like them on Facebook and subscribe to the Diplomats YouTube page for frequent highlight videos of games throughout the season.