Feb. 16, 2009
This is the first in a five-part installment previewing the 2009 University of Cincinnati baseball season. UC opens its 2009 campaign on Friday, Feb. 20, at the inaugural BIG EAST/Big Ten Baseball Challenge. The Bearcats play Purdue University at 1 p.m. at the Raymond A. Naimoli Complex in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Coming off a school record 39 wins and a trip to the program's first BIG EAST Championship game, the University of Cincinnati's baseball team heads into the 2009 season looking to build upon the success from a season ago. While the road back to a BIG EAST Championship will be tough with the loss of four all-conference selections, including 2008 BIG EAST Co-Player of the Year and sixth-round Major League Baseball Draft selection Josh Harrison, the 13-year leader of the Bearcats baseball team, Brian Cleary, is optimistic about what lies ahead in 2009 for UC.
"We hope to pick up where we left off last year," Cleary said. "We lost some key players, but we have a group of key guys returning. We may not be as fast as we were last year, but I think we can make up for that with our power and our overall depth."
The 2008 Cincinnati squad struck a balance between power and speed and a solid group of last season's contributors return in 2009 led by 2009 Brooks Wallace Watch List selection, Mike Spina, and 2009 preseason all-BIG EAST selections Michael Hill and Cameron Satterwhite.
With the departure of two-year starter Ryan Baker, four players will battle for the backstop duties, three of whom are newcomers. Sophomore Nick Rohlfs is the lone returning catcher from the 2009 roster. He played in nine games last season and finished the year with five hits in 21 at-bats, including one home run, en route to a .238 batting average.
At 6-foot-1, 203 pounds, junior college transfer Jimmy Jacquot
possess the physical tools to thrive in the BIG EAST and is the projected starter behind the plate. Cleary believes there will be an adjustment period from the junior college level to the Division I level, but thinks Jacquot is ready to contribute immediately.
Rounding out the catchers are freshmen Cramer Dethy and Braden Kline. Dethy and Kline have strong work ethics and both could see time behind the plate.