While the corners of the infield are somewhat unsettled, head coach Pete Dunn says the Hatters have a much clearer picture in the outfield where all three spots appear to be shored up.
“We have a really good idea of who’s playing where in the outfield,” said Dunn. “We have some interchangeable parts and that will help us throughout the season.”
Junior Darby McCormick is slated to be Stetson’s left fielder. McCormick batted .319 last season while playing in 39 games with 20 starts. He is a career .297 hitter.
“Darby won the left field position out-right,” said Dunn. “We platooned a lot out there last year but we aren’t looking at doing that this year. Left field is his.”
Senior Kyle Zech will start in center, provided he’s healthy. A three-year letterwinner, Zech has been full of promise throughout his Stetson career but has been limited to a total of 89 games, including just 22 last season. He hit .360 (9-for-25) as a junior.
“Kyle is the fastest player I’ve ever coached here,” said Dunn. “He can run down balls that no one else can get to. You keep your fingers crossed as to whether he can stay healthy. If he can, and he can limit his strikeouts and fly-ball outs, he can be a tremendous asset.”
Several players are expected to see time in right field, with senior co-captain Robert Bruce and junior Tanner Blackman likely to share time.
Bruce, a left-handed hitter, batted .267 last season in 36 games. Blackman, a right-handed hitter, batted .216 as a sophomore.
“If we’re going to platoon in the outfield, it’ll be in right,” said Dunn. “Robert does a really good job against right-handed pitching. Blackman could be his platoon partner. We may start the season that way and see what happens.”
Senior Mike Fernland is a candidate to see time at all three outfield positions. Fernland started 20 games as a junior, all in center field.
Dunn mentioned freshmen Eliot Shapleigh and Dean Garabedian as two players who may see time at just about any position on the field. Shapleigh is a left-handed hitter from Trinity Prep in Orlando where he hit .365 for his career and pitched to a 2.84 ERA. Garabedian was a four-year letter winner at Archbishop Carroll in Miami and hit .403 as a senior.
“Shapleigh can fill a utility role for us,” said Dunn. “Garabedian can play just about anywhere. He’s a good utility player that can give us help at just about every position.”