Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton)
They are coming off the best season in program history, plans are made for a sparkling new baseball complex and the Bearcats return nearly their entire lineup from last season.
And Binghamton is picked to finish third? As the Bearcats prepare to open the season this weekend, their goals are slightly higher.
Their coach Tim Sinicki says, " There is nothing guaranteed to these guys this year. They have to work just as hard as last year's group and may be even harder, because we'll be the program with a target on our back, having won three consecutive championships."
3 is the magic number.
It was the third straight regular season title last year, but this year the America East coaches have picked Binghamton to finish third.
Catch C.J. Lukaszewski says, " We love it. We want them to pick everybody else, we just want to go out there and compete and we will show them what we can really do."
As for strengths, coach Tim Sinicki points to his offense and defense. That's a lineup that returns more or less intact and revolves around Vestal grad Corey Taylor.
Taylor says, " I think offensively this year should be our best year in a long time. 1 through nine we are very strong. 7-8-9 our hitters should be solid. There's not a weak spot in the order."
Slugging first baseman Dave Ciocchi adds, " There is always room for improvement. There are always things that we can do as a team to get better. I think one through nine in our lineup, everyone can hit the ball and everyone can make things happen."
The biggest question revolves around the pitching staff. Long the Bearcats biggest strength the team needs to replace ace Murphy Smith, lefty Jeff Dennis and closer Greg Lane.
Sinicki says, " We have good depth. To go 10 guys deep right now that we feel confident in handing the ball to, and very little separates one through 10.
So we feel good about the quality of our staff. We're just waiting for one or two guys to emerge as those guys on the weekend that are going to go out and get quality starts."
Those questions will start to get answered this weekend as Binghamton opens the year in Virginia.