(Las Cruces, NM) - The Sacred Heart University Baseball opens its 2012 season Friday night at 6:05 pm EST, beginning a four-game series at New Mexico State University.
The Pioneers are in defense of their second NEC Title in program history. On the mound, they return the front end of the rotation in Friday night starter Tory Scribner, a junior who earned both Second-Team All-NEC honors and All-NEC Tournament honors. He won seven games in a row before his start against the Clemson Tigers in the NCAA Regional, tying for the conference lead with nine wins.
Sophomore Nick Leiningen looks to build on his campaign last year, when he was named the NEC Rookie of the Year and also joined Scribner on the All-NEC Second Team and All NEC Tournament team, going 6-3 with a 4.02 ERA.
While the top of SHU's line-up will have a new look with the graduations of All-NECers Steve Tedesco, JJ Edwards, and MJ Schifano, the middle of the order returns plenty of thunder from last season's league-leading hitting core (.308 team batting average). First-Team All-NEC first baseman Rob Griffith returns for his senior year after leading the league with 44 RBI and finishing in the top 10 in many other offensive categories, including batting average (.335-9th), Slugging (.488-6th), Runs (41-T-3rd), and hits (70-5th).
Senior second baseman Hunter Phillips proved to be one of the NEC's top situational hitters last season. He led the team with 20 two-out RBI, hitting .397 with runners in scoring position, .355 with two outs, and an astounding .488 leading off an inning. He hit .325 overall and was named to the All-NEC Second team, and only struck out 10 times in 234 plate appearances.
Junior shortstop John Murphy will look to pick up where he left off, culminating his season with an NEC Tournament MVP award, going 5-13 with a homeruns, four RBI, and five runs in SHU's three-game tournament sweep of LIU-Brooklyn and Monmouth. After a tough start, he finished the season and even .300 with 43 RBI, tied for second in the NEC.
Sacred Heart win its second-ever NEC Championship last season and also set the school record for wins in a season for the second straight year. They broke the 2010 mark of 31 wins with a 10-1 win over Long Island in the first game of the NEC Tournament, finishing 2011 with 34 wins.