outfielders Jim Volpe (4) and Kenny Wilson helped the Norse
win the 2006 GLVC championship. Those two players return in
2007 and hope to lead NKU to a repeat performance in the GLVC.
Moynahan, NKU Sports Information
Ky. - A veteran cast returns from Northern Kentucky University’s
Great Lakes Valley Conference championship team, and Norse head
coach Todd Asalon has added an outstanding recruiting class to complement
his returning players.
His team is
also picked to repeat as GLVC champions, and NKU enters the 2007
season ranked 23rd nationally in the NCAA Division II poll. The
Norse also feature one of the deepest pitching staffs in the nation.
But, as most
baseball coaches tend to do this time of the year, Asalon finds
reasons to worry. He must find replacements for catcher Conor McGeehan
and closer Steve Thomas, a pair of four-year standouts who led NKU
to a 42-20-1 overall record last season.
first team All-GLVC honors after batting .302 with 28 runs batted
in. McGeehan later signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
Thomas, a third team All-America selection, collected 11 saves,
a 1.05 earned run average and a 5-0 record during the 2006 season.
two four-year players such as Conor and Steve is going to be a rough
transition for the team and the staff,” Asalon said. “When
it comes to our first game and I start to fill out the lineup card
and can’t write in Conor McGeehan, it will really hit me then.
The Los Angeles Dodgers got themselves a good one.
was the bullpen anchor and was lights out at the end of a game.
We never had to call down to the bullpen because Steve always knew
when it was his time to get ready. He was a quiet leader and led
by example which is the best kind of a leader to me.”
have a strong core of seniors to lead the way this season. The Norse
roster features 12 seniors, all looking to make their last season
one to remember.
we have 12 seniors, they need to take ownership of the program to
make sure we stay focused toward our team goals,” Asalon said.
“These seniors are a special group, and I feel very good about
weakness will be determined by how our seniors take control and
assume their leadership roles. We have never been a senior-dominated
team, and I hope that these seniors can take us to that next level.”
Along with the
senior class, the Norse once again feature a talented pitching staff,
which Asalon believes is the strength of the team. Seven of the
12 seniors help make up the pitching staff.
senior left-hander Josh Bruns earned preseason All-America
accolades for 2007 after going 8-2 last year. Bruns struck
out 64 batters in 78 2/3 innings on the mound.
One senior pitcher
has been named to the Rawlings/American Baseball Coaches Association
NCAA Division II preseason All-America team, left-hander Josh Bruns.
Last season, he posted an 8-2 record and a 2.86 ERA. Bruns hurled
two shutouts, three complete games and struck out 64 batters in
78 2/3 innings on the mound.
a preseason All-American and will also be a starter again,”
Asalon said. “Last year, he was All-GLVC and All-Region and
was outstanding in his first season at NKU. He has blossomed into
one of the best pitchers in the country.”
seniors will accompany Bruns as starters this season for the Norse,
Matt Marksbury and Brian Beltz. Marksbury, a Norwood High School
graduate, finished with a 6-3 record and a 2.09 ERA last season.
He also pitched two shutouts, five complete games, collected 64
strikeouts and walked just 15 batters in 77 2/3 innings on the mound.
a 6-4 record on the way to a 2.05 earned run average in 70 1/3 innings.
He finished with 53 strikeouts, and Beltz limited opposing hitters
to a .201 batting average last season.
is an All-GLVC performer who will get the ball every weekend and
should repeat as an all-conference selection,” said Asalon.
“He will be a four-year starter and is a fierce competitor.
We expect him to give us 80 to 90 quality innings again and give
us a great chance to win every time he pitches.
will look to continue where he left off last season. He won six
games as a starter, and we see Brian being a 10-game winner this
season. He gets better every time he steps on the mound and is a
a starting job this spring is junior right-hander Nate Jones, a
graduate of Pendleton County. He saw action in six games last year
and posted a 2-0 record. He recorded 29 strikeouts in 23 innings
on the mound.
will also be a mainstay in the rotation," Asalon said. "He
is a hard throwing right-hander who have been clocked in the mid-90s
and also will be selected in this June’s draft.”
senior right-hander Matt Marksbury earned All-GLVC honors
last season after posting a 6-3 record with a 2.09 ERA. Marksbury
also allowed just 15 walks in 77 2/3 innings on the mound.
Bogenschutz and sophomores Kevin Quick and Matt Winterhalter could
also see starting time throughout the season as needed. Last season,
Bogenschutz made 11 appearances and picked up one save, while Quick
made four appearances before redshirting after an injury.
finished with a 4-2 record. He started seven times and struck out
26 batters in 39 1/3 innings on the mound.
has developed into a quality pitcher,” Asalon said. “He
will be one of the first guys out of the bullpen and can start when
needed. He has an outstanding fastball that goes right after the
hitters. Kevin will return after a redshirt last year due to arm
surgery. As a true freshman two years ago, he stepped into the starting
position and was outstanding.
will come out of the bullpen and be a spot starter as was his role
last year. He throws a ton of strikes and has an outstanding curveball
as his out pitch.”
time on the mound this season will be David Armstrong, Adam Bell,
Greg Pass, Paul Behrens, Drew Hoffman and Kevin Jordan.
blessed with 15 quality arms and we plan on using them all,”
another strength for this year’s squad will be NKU’s
improved offense. Four seniors - Kory Lonergan, Matt Wagers, Chris
Nann and Jim Volpe - will lead the offense.
first team All-GLVC accolades last season after batting .292 and
collecting 23 stolen bases. The shortstop also scored 40 times and
led the team with 68 hits.
always seems to deliver the big hit in the key situations,”
Asalon said. “He is an outstanding athlete who can hit for
average, has terrific speed and a powerful throwing arm. We look
for Kory to be our next All-American at NKU.”
could see time in both the infield and outfield, led the team with
43 RBI, which ranked second in the conference, and five home runs
while batting .227.
we have runners in scoring position, we want him at the plate,”
Asalon said. “Matt is a true team player and is willing to
make those sacrifices for the good of the team. I know teams in
the GLVC will be happy to see him go.”
senior shortstop Kory Lonergan emerged as one of the GLVC’s
top clutch hitters last season. Lonergan was named All-GLVC
and collected the game-winning hit in the GLVC Tournament
championship contest against Quincy.
Nann, a first
baseman from Maryland, completed the season with a .247 batting
average and led the team in extra base hits. He finished with 14
doubles, five triples and three home runs. Volpe, an outfielder
and Elder High School graduate, batted .240 with 29 hits and 18
runs batted in.
is a true power hitter,” Asalon said. “He is very solid
defensively, and I look for him to be a difference maker this season.
Through Jim’s hard work and dedication, he has turned himself
into one of the best outfielders in the GLVC. He is especially tough
in the clutch and was a key run producer last year.”
second base for the third consecutive season will be junior Jon
Back. Back completed the 2006 season with a .223 batting average.
He collected 43 hits, four doubles and 17 RBI. He also stole 17
seen a better defensive second basemen in my 13 years of coaching,
especially turning the double play,” Asalon said. “He
is an excellent baserunner and can be very disruptive on the bases.”
Schaffer, a sophomore transfer from Winthrop, will join Volpe in
the outfield. A year ago, Schaffer saw action in 40 games for the
Eagles and batted .281 while finishing with 11 runs batted in.
Volpe and Schaffer in the outfield will be sophomore Kenny Wilson.
Last season, he finished with a .214 batting average, 36 hits and
scored 24 times. He led the team with 27 stolen bases.
has been blessed with the five tools that professional scouts look
for. He hits for average, has power, fast runner, excellent defense
and a strong throwing arm,” Asalon said. “He will be
one of the best players in the conference this year.
is probably the fastest player in the conference and region. As
a true freshman, he swiped 27 bases and was a definite disruption
for opposing defenses. He is a talented defender and uses his speed
to the fullest.”
Mentz, a transfer from Ball State, will also contend for playing
time in the outfield.
Sophomore Kevin Dusold, a transfer from St. Catharine's, is expected
to make an immediate impact for the Norse.
is an outstanding athlete with the opportunity to be a special player
at NKU,” Asalon said. “He is a solid hitter who will
hit for average and power. He is slotted to hit third in the order
to take advantage of his speed and athleticism.”
positions will see a rotation of players depending on matchups:
catcher and designated hitter.
Brad Johnson, Larry Pempek, Drew Rushing, Stephen Rodgers and Tyler
Schunk will vie to fill McGeehan's void behind the plate.
junior second baseman Jon Back provides the Norse with a speedy
runner on the basepaths. Back is also a fine defensive player
and a three-year starter.
This will be
Johnson and Pempek’s first season with the Norse. Johnson,
a junior transfer from Forest Park Community College, batted .257
last season with eight doubles and 35 RBI. Pempek is also a Ball
is a big, strong-armed catcher who will log key innings behind the
plate,” Asalon said. “He is an excellent receiver and
solid hitter who was all-conference at Forest Park. Larry brings
a wealth of knowledge and experience behind the plate from an excellent
Division I program. He has a great arm and is an excellent receiver
and will help guide the NKU pitching staff.”
Schunk, a 2006
graduate of Oak Hills High School, will also see time behind the
plate during the 2007 season.
will see quality time behind the plate this season,” Asalon
said. “He has major-league arm strength and should be able
to control opponents' running games. He is very solid at the plate
and will be a great contributor this season.”
could also see time at first base and as the designated hitter,
saw action in 16 games last season for NKU where he finished with
a .238 batting average with 10 runs batted in. Rodgers, a redshirt
freshman from Elizabethtown, Ky., will also provide depth behind
the plate this year.
Along with Rushing,
junior Josh Moulton and freshman Evan McDole will see time at the
designated hitter position for the Norse. A year ago, Moulton saw
action in 48 games and batted .252 while battling an injury all
season. He collected 33 hits and 11 RBI in 2006.
is an excellent contact hitter who uses the entire field,”
Asalon said. “Two years ago, he was first team All-GLVC designated
hitter. Last year, Josh battled through a leg injury and his numbers
went down. When healthy, Josh can be a huge asset.”
McDole, a 2005
graduate of Bishop Brossart High School, sat out last season as
a redshirt, but Asalon believes he has the potential to greatly
impact the Norse.
will be a special player at NKU,” Asalon said. “He is
going to be a tremendous hitter because of his ability and he is
very coachable. For a power guy, he is very disciplined at the plate
DeCarlo and freshman Patrick Muth will be counted on to provide
the Norse with some depth off the bench this season. Last season,
DeCarlo played in 34 games and completed the season with a .246
batting average while seeing action in both the infield and outfield.
key to the NKU season because of his versatility and gives the staff
many options,” Asalon said. “He is an outstanding defender
with a very strong arm and is also a solid hitter.”
of senior leadership and newcomer talent should produce positive
results when the Norse take the field this season. NKU begins its
season on Feb. 17 with a doubleheader at Delta State. NKU will open
GLVC play against Missouri-St. Louis in Ft. Myers, Fla. on March
The GLVC Tournament
will again be held in May at Sauget, Ill. NKU has won three GLVC
Tournament championships (2002, '04, '06) in the past five years.