Baseball Looking to Round the Bases this Year

The Sacred Heart baseball team has been projected to finish third in the Northeast Conference (NEC) this year, according to the NEC Preseason Coaches Poll. They received one first place vote in the poll. This is an improvement on last season’s projection, when they were picked to finish fifth in the conference with no first-place votes.

The Pioneers finished third in the NEC in 2021with an overall record of 23-25 and a 17-10 mark in the NEC. Following a season that exceeded expectations, Head Coach Nick Restaino has big hopes for what his team will accomplish this season.

“We want to have a winning record, qualify for the NEC tournament and win our overall conference,” said Restaino. “It will take sacrifice, discipline and a comprehensive effort to play well in all three facets of the game: pitching, hitting and defense.”

Restaino was named head coach in 2017 after spending the previous three seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Pioneers.

After losing half of his starting lineup in the offseason to graduation and transfers, Restaino was able to add a few incoming transfers and freshmen players to complete his puzzle.

“We look for dedicated student athletes who are good teammates and have a specific skill set or ability to develop that skill set,” said Restaino. “In addition, we look for players that have a competitive nature.”

These efforts will be led by graduate student Ryan LaMay and senior Chase Jeter. Both Jeter and LaMay serve as co-captains of the team alongside senior Joe Emerson.

LaMay started 11 games last season with 28 strikeouts in 48.2 innings pitched.

“Being a captain of this team has been one of the greatest honors of my baseball career. To know that I have the trust of my coaches and teammates is an incredible feeling and I take this position very seriously,” said LaMay. “As captain, I have made it my goal to support my teammates in other areas, like academics, because I believe my role extends beyond the baseball field.”

In 2019, LaMay was one of three players to earn NEC weekly honors under Restaino, and was named to the All-NEC Second Team.

“Coach Restaino is an exceptional coach and he did a great job of bringing in talented, hard-working athletes and molding them into an even better group of men,” said LaMay. “He ensures we are all in good academic standing and a visible, positive presence on campus.”

The southpaw Jeter transferred in from Dartmouth after the 2019 season.

“I love the community at Sacred Heart and have been able to meet great people here. It was an easy adjustment, and I owe a lot of credit to my teammates and roommates who have been supportive of me,” said Jeter.

He started 12 games for Sacred Heart last season and finished with a record of 5-3 with 43 strikeouts in 60.2 innings pitched. His campaign has led him to be named a 2022 Top 15 Draft Prospect in the Northeast Conference by the DI Baseball Journal alongside senior teammate Justin Jordan.

“Being named a top draft prospect feels great, especially since I have a strong desire to play professional baseball,” said Jeter. “I hope to have a strong season that will impress scouts and put myself in the best possible position to continue pitching after college.”

Jeter will be a major contributor to this team as they play toward a possible postseason run. The NEC’s top four regular season finishers will qualify and advance to the double elimination conference tournament at the end of May.

 “The goal for us every year is to win the tournament and get to play in a regional. It will be a tough task because the NEC improves every year,” said LaMay. “Our team has the talent and ability to go far, but to get there, we need to focus on our teamwork and execution.”

The Pioneers kick off their season Feb. 23 at Fordham University in The Bronx. They then travel to Richmond, Va. to face off against the University of St. Thomas on Feb. 25.

Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.

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