posted February 14, 2012

2012 Pre-Season Baseball Outlook

The Flying Dutchmen will be seeking to maintain the momentum of a string of successful seasons as they approach a reconfigured conference season. The Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) has instituted a post-season tournament to determine who will represent the conference in the NCAA championships. In past years the regular season champion has received the league's automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. Beginning this spring the top four teams in the regular season will play in the qualifying tournament.

Coach Stu Fritz's Dutchmen finished second in the MIAA last spring and posted an overall 26-14 record. The Dutchmen had a successful season-opening trip, winning seven of their nine games. Hope split its four-game series with conference champion Adrian, highlighted by a season-ending doubleheader sweep on the Bulldogs' diamond.

Over 18 years as coach, coach Fritz has guided the Flying Dutchmen to eight conference championships and 384 victories.

Hope's pre-season roster of 30 players includes 19 returning letterwinners. The team consists of eight freshmen, 10 sophomores, six juniors and six seniors.

The co-captains are senior Danny Detmar of Chesterton, Ind., junior TJ Klein of Circle Pines, Minn. (Centennial HS), senior Chris Mattson of Muskegon (Mona Shores HS), and senior Jon Ponte of Novi (Divine Child HS). Ponte, Hope's starting catcher since his freshman year, has the distinction of being a captain as both a junior and senior.

The Flying Dutchmen return six players who received All-MIAA honors in 2011. First team returnees include junior second baseman Ty Peterson of Wheaton, Ill. (Warrenville South HS), senior shortstop Chris Mattson, and senior pitcher Adam Clements of Saline (Saline HS). All-MIAA second team returnees are Jon Ponte, junior outfielder TJ Klein, and senior pitcher Danny Detmar. Mattson and Ponte have received All-MIAA honors twice in their careers. Ponte carries a .356 career batting average.

In addition to receiving All-MIAA honors, Clements was honored as an All-Region pitcher behind a sterling 1.29 earned run average and 7-3 record. Among all pitchers in NCAA Division III, he ranked ninth in earned run average and was in the top 100 in victories (#76, 7-3), fewest hits allowed per nine innings (#62, 6.94), and fewest walks allowed per nine innings (#36, 1.29). With a 17-5 career record, Clements should challenge Hope's alltime mark of 22 victories, a mark shared by John Klunder and Greg Heeres in the 1980s.

Junior pitcher Jordan Carrigan of Buchanan (Berrien Springs HS) is Hope's alltime career leader for saves (10). Sophomore third baseman Chris Dawson of Grand Haven (Midland HS) had an outstanding first collegiate season as he ranked 20th nationally as the toughest batter to strikeout (4 Ks in 142 plate appearances) and 54th in sacrifice flies (five).

The Flying Dutchmen play their games at the college's four-year-old Boeve Baseball Stadium.