WILLIAMSTOWN — It has been three years since a Williams College baseball team made it to the NESCAC postseason tournament. It has been almost a decade since the Ephs have earned the championship.
So, the Ephs come off a 14-19 season last year brimming with optimism and the hope that at least one of those droughts might come to an end.
"I've been impressed with the leadeership of this program, especially before we even started the preseason," said Williams coach Bill Barrale. "We have a relatively young team, but I'm very excited to see home much we grow and compete this season."
The Ephs finished tied for third in NESCAC's West Division with Hamilton. Both teams had 4-8 records.
The last time Williams won a NESCAC Tournament title was in 2007, when the Ephs beat Tufts 8-5 in Williamstown.
The Ephs also haven't had an All-NESCAC player since junior outfielder Jack Cloud was named as a freshman. The last first-team selection was shortstop Cameron Susk in 2011.
Williams opens the season Monday with a doubleheader against Hamline University. The Ephs close their Arizona sojurn with three games against NESCAC rival Middlebury.
In baseball, everything starts on the mound. That's where Barrale and his staff hope to see the most improvement. Out of the 10 baseball-playing teams in NESCAC, Williams was ninth in the conference with a 5.75 earned-run average. West Division champion Wesleyan led the league with a 2.98 ERA.
Senior Daniel Smith and junior Luke Rodino will lead the Williams pitching staff. Rodino made seven starts and had five complete games to go with his 2.72 ERA. Smith also made seven starts, and struck out 27 hitters in 34 innings. Both are right-handed throwers.
Barrale said the third weekend starter has yet to be determined, and that will be figured out when the team goes to Arizona.
Offensively, Luke Pierce took his five home runs and his diploma with him in June. But Jack Roberts is the top returning hitter. The junior infielder hit .359 to lead the Ephs and also had a team-high 29 runs-batted in.
Roberts played shortstop last year, but will share the keystone combination with freshman Kellen Hatheway.
A pair of sophomores, Adam Dulsky and Adam Regensburg, bring .300 batting averages back from last year. Regensburg will move to right field after being spotted around the outfield last year. Dulsky will get the start behind the plate.
Williams will also look for a big bounce-back year from junior Jack Cloud.
"I think the most important thing from Day One, we've had competition at every spot," said Barrale. "That helps motivates guys, when they have some one pushing them every day and every practice."
Williams also welcomes a new assistant coach. Andrew Agostini, who assisted Steve Messina at Mount Greylock High School, replaces Mike Gladu. Gladu is now the head coach at MCLA. Assistant Tanner McIntyre is now the pitching coach.
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.