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Monarchs Open Season Friday With Series Against Iona

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: February 09, 2006
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Feb. 9, 2006

NORFOLK, VA-- The ODU Baseball Monarchs open the 2006 season with a three-game series against Iona, beginning Friday at 3 p.m. in the Bud Metheny Baseball complex.

Kevin Gunter will be ODU's opening day pitcher with Bryan Hansen throwing on Saturday and Jason Godin on Sunday.

Junior firstbaseman Bryan Cipolla heads a list of 16 returning lettermen, including six position starters, a solid recruiting class, and pitching depth to lead the Old Dominion University Monarchs into the 2006 season.

Cipolla ranked third in the Colonial Athletic Association and 17th nationally with 67 runs batted in. He also led ODU with a .332 batting average, eight homers and 19 doubles. His slugging percentage was.522 and he had five sacrifices.

Joining Cipolla are ODU's catching tandem of Tyler Belcher who hit .306 with 34 runs batted in, and Patrick Nichols who slammed five homers with 26 RBI. ODU will be counting heavily on returning shortstop Jess Schoendienst, thirdbaseman Justin Gregula, second baseman Chris Keenan, outfielders Keith Hahn and Brooks Sinnen. Schoendienst, the great nephew of St. Louis Cardinal Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst, hit .276 for ODU and was selected in the 40th round by the St. Louis Cardinals.

On the pitching front, ODU lost ace reliever James Burok to graduation. He saved six games, earned ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-American honors and was selected in the eighth round by the Colorado Rockies. The Monarchs return seven regulars including Jason Godin who was sidelined last year recovering from an injury.

Leading the list of mound returnees are Dana Arrowood and Bryan Hansen, both of who led the staff in innings pitched. Kevin Gunter, who lost a tough, 1-0 decision to Clemson last year and was a Valley League All-Star this past summer returns as well as Hunter Hall, Needham Jones and David Wagner. Jones was second on the team with 22 appearances, led the squad with the lowest earned run average at 3.55 and was selected in the 36th round by the Chicago Cubs.

Head coach Jerry Meyers and his coaching staff brought in some outstanding newcomers which will give the Monarchs added depth. Heading the list of newcomers are outfielders Mike Zahm and Jimmy Miles, along with local high school standout pitchers Daniel Hudson and pitcher/outfielder Anthony Shawler.

Zahm helped lead Iowa Western Community College to a third place finish at the Junior College World Series and was selected to the Series All-Tournament squad. Jimmy Miles is a two-time first team All-Conference selection at South Florida Community College. Daniel Hudson helped lead Princess Anne High School to the Virginia AAA State title and earned All-State honors both as a pitcher and as a firstbaseman. Shawler earned honorable mention All-State honors at Oscar Smith High School and was selected in the 44th round by the Washington Nationals.

All-Conference shortstop Stephen Dorst from Skyline Community College and infielder Jesse Ross, who transferred from Radford, are top junior newcomers. Freshmen Ross Fetterly, John Malbon, Cameron Scott, and Brent Strickler should also make a major impact for the Monarchs.

" With the addition of eleven newcomers and a strong group of returnees that logged significant experience in terms of playing time, we are excited about the tremendous opportunities we have as we embark on the 2006 season, " said Meyers. " We feel we have added depth at every position as well as on the mound and have a good mix of younger players and those that have been around few years. The CAA will be strong and balanced once again and we look forward to the challenges that are ahead in becoming a championship-level ballclub."

Adds Meyers," We will need our veterans to provide great leadership, our younger guys to trust their talent as they develop, and as a team, out-compete, and out-work people throughout the entire season."

This year's ODU schedule will again feature 35 home games with some of the nation's premier powers visiting the Bud Metheny Baseball Complex. Coming in for three-game series' are Rutgers, Navy, Rhode Island and Iona. Two-game home series will include Radford, and single game visitors Virginia, Richmond, Norfolk State, VMI and Longwood.

On April 4, the Monarchs will play their annual scholarship exhibition with the Norfolk Tides, the AAA affiliate of the New York Mets in the Bank of the Commonwealth Classic at Harbor Park.

The CAA added two more schools in Georgia State from Atlanta, and Northeastern in Boston, MA. Once again, everyone in the league will play each other in three-game weekend series'. ODU will host George Mason, James Madison, VCU, William and Mary, and Northeastern in three-games each at the Bud, while traveling to Georgia State, Delaware, Towson, UNC Wilmington and Hofstra. The CAA tournament is May 24-29 at Brooks Field in Wilmington, NC.

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