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February 22, 2002
Vol. 43 No. 16

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Zook leads young Crusaders

Stretching out
The Crusader/Kelly Gerrity
STRETCHING OUT - The Crusaders will have to replace first baseman Lyle Hosler and second baseman Chris Knickerbocker this year and try to rebuild after finishing last in the Commonwealth last season.
The Susquehanna baseball team opens the spring season March 3 with its annual trip to Florida, starting anew after finishing last year at 11-16.

The team will play eight games in four days at Fort Pierce, Fla. before returning to Pennsylvania to open conference play in the Middle Atlantic Conference on March 18 against Messiah.

The Crusaders will need to replace three of the top four offensive players, as Lyle Hosler, Chris Knickerbocker and Mike Sauers all graduated from last year's team. The team does return 17 players with experience from last season.

Senior catcher Travis Zook returns as the team's top offensive player after hitting .329 with 25 hits and a .420 on-base percentage last season.

Zook, a second-team Commonwealth All-Star for the past two seasons, has been a mainstay on the team since his arrival at Susquehanna. Zook has been one of the top players on the team at the catcher position and the on-field leader for the Crusaders, Head Coach Tim Briggs said.

"He (Zook) brings leadership and experience, he brings a skill level and he brings an enthusiasm and a work ethic," Briggs said.

The holes left over from last season's graduation will leave the Crusaders looking for players to step up, but with a solid sophomore class on the team, the Crusaders believe they should be able to fill the openings without much difficulty.

The team does return a solid pitching core, as seniors John Jezorwski and Patrick Quillian and sophomores Adam Martin, Joe Guistina and Nathan Trick all return with experience from last year.

Briggs touted Martin as perhaps the staff's ace, but expects contributions from each of the young arms.

"Adam has to be our guy right now," Briggs said. "We have some guys with some experience, and we have a whole lot of freshmen. I think we are ahead in every (pitching) area than we were at this point last year."

The team will look to improve on its mark from a year ago, which included a 4-10 record in conference play.

"It (the youth) brings some question marks, but it does bring some excitement also," Briggs said. "We like to think we are pretty good, but we haven't faced anyone yet. We have some young people who have [already] had to compete."

The Crusaders relied on defense to win games last year and will hope to continue playing strong in that capacity, but will need to produce more runs in the conference games to make a push for the playoffs.

"The depth this year is better than the depth last year," Briggs said. "It has been very competitive. Some of the guys that we had last year wouldn't be on this team (this year)."



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Zook leads young Crusaders

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