There’s plenty of talent returning to the pitching mound in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) for the 2016 season. Pitching could have a big say in whether teams contend for a division title, make a good run for the conference title or even make it to an NCAA Regional tournament. At the start of the season, starting pitching can be a struggle, but a stout bullpen often makes up for a slow start and can lead to a deeper, stronger rotation.
There are nine baseball programs with multiple representatives that show signs of dominance on the mound.
Norfolk State should have a deep pitching rotation in 2016. The Spartans starting staff returns MEAC Pitcher of the Year Matt Outman (8-2, 3.12) and junior Devin Hemmerich (4-4, 3.41). A number of hard throwing right-handers who held relief roles last year, Michael Parmentier (3-1, 3.49), Robbie Hiser, Alex Mauricio, Cooper Jones or Lane Ward, could all be mid-week and weekend starters with potential impact.
Florida A&M, MEAC Conference Champions and NCAA Division I Regional playoff representative last season, return the entire pitching staff. Right handers Brandon Fleming (7-1, 2.77), Danny Rodriguez and Sawyer Betts will aid the Rattlers rotation leading to a possible return to the NCAA regional playoffs in 2016.
North Carolina Central returns six pitchers, including Devin Sweet (4-2, 2.93), and two weekend starters. The Eagles have two top bullpen arms in left hander Blake Morgan (3.34) and right hander Andrew Vernon (3-5, 3.45) who also return.
Bethune-Cookman will have some top talent on the mound as it returns five of its top six pitchers including Alex Seibold (5-5, 5.05), Tyler Norris (3-5, 4.31) and Clint Clymer (8 Saves, 0-3, 3.98). The bullpen will have to step up with a tough non-conference. The schedule includes top RPI opponents Miami, Florida, Stetson, Central Florida, North Florida, South Florida, Florida International, Florida Gulf Coast and Ohio State.
There are other intriguing teams in the MEAC as well. For instance, Maryland Eastern Shore interim head coach John O’Neil has some new talented prospects ready to make an immediate impact in Tyrell Ricks, Tom Summers and Anthony Caliri. The Hawks pitching staff also includes returning closer Devin Repine ( 5 Saves, 0-3, 4.40).
Savannah State head coach Carlton Hardy added 15 newcomers to the roster to go with 20 returnees with pitching being the key.
Coppin State head coach Sherman Reed, Sr. return starters Myles Taylor and Desean Rabb, with four top freshman arms Juan Casillas, Devin Sutorius, Andrew O’Dwyer and Aaron Rea on the roster that includes 14 pitchers.
Delaware State has a young pitching staff to go along with returning All-MEAC RHP Lane DeLeon (5-5, 3.12). Coach JP Blandin has the task of developing his young pitching talent.
North Carolina A&T head coach Ben Hall’s Aggies lacks a solid pitching rotation, but with the youngest pitching staff in the MEAC, good things could be yet to come and could be the surprise team in the conference this season.