Gainesville, FL – The four time defending Mid-Florida Conference champions Santa Fe Saints open the 2013 season on the road Friday in Tampa against Hillsborough CC at 7:00 PM. The game will take place at the University of South Florida Baseball Stadium. The first home contest for SF is Saturday, January 26 when South Georgia College comes to Gainesville for a double header at 12:00 PM.
“We are excited to get started,” said SF Coach Johnny Wiggs. “It’s early, but this will tell us where we are at and what we need to improve on.”
Last season the Saints finished second in the Florida College System Activities Association in pitching (2.45 ERA) and hitting (.310 BA). They return seven players from last year’s team including University of Florida signee Dylan Barrow. Barrow, a right handed pitcher, had a 2.45 ERA in 18.1 innings pitched out of the bullpen in 2012. Santa Fe’s other returning pitchers from last season include: JT Simpson (6-3, 1.96 ERA, 40 K), Caleb Denmark (2-0, 0.90 ERA, 4 saves) and Josh Larson (3-1, 2.16 ERA, .183 BAA). All four will be counted upon heavily to lead a young staff.
On the offensive side SF returns four from the 2012 squad. Two way player Caleb Denmark hit .325 as a freshman with four homeruns and 33 RBI. Also returning is catcher Blake Berger (.235 BA, 10 RBI) and infielders Josh Stewart and Graham Cason both local Gainesville products who saw limited at bats last season.
“I think we are a very athletic team and have a chance to be very good offensively,” said Wiggs. “We should steal a lot of bases and have the ability to score in many different ways.”
Leading a strong freshman class is outfielder Jamal Martin. Martin was selected in the 11th round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox and is one of the fastest players in the country. Nine other freshman join Martin including Buchholz High School grad Derek Vail, a right handed pitcher.
Six transfers make up the SF roster including former Vanderbilt Commodore Connor Castellano (outfield) and Miami Hurricane Jarred Mederos (shortstop). Catcher Bryan Evans joins the Saints from St. John’s River State College and attended high school locally at Santa Fe High in Alachua.
“Between our returning players, our freshman and our transfers, we have quite a bit of experience that we hope will pay dividends,” said Wiggs.