Colorado Mesa baseball team loaded with pitching this season



The Colorado Mesa University softball team received one first-place vote and is picked to finish fourth in the RMAC in the preseason poll released Tuesday.

The Mavericks (23-23 last season) return their entire infield, two outfielders and one pitcher.

“I’m all right with (being picked) fourth,” CMU coach Kris Mort said. “What’s important is that we get better. We should be in the hunt every contest and hopefully for the (RMAC) championship in the end.

“The talent is here. It boils down to chemistry and desire.”

The Mavs are led by preseason All-RMAC senior outfielder Dani Vallie, who hit .350 with RBI last season.

Colorado Mines received seven first-place votes and is the favorite to win the RMAC. Regis is picked second and Metro State third.


—Allen Gemaehlich

Colorado Mesa University has produced some good pitchers, but the Mavericks baseball team may have more pitching depth this season than ever before.

The RMAC coaches agree, voting the No. 34-ranked Mavericks as the preseason favorite to win the RMAC, the conference announced Tuesday.

All-region pitchers Jared Christensen and Nolan Snell return along with Dylan Evans. Christensen and Snell are preseason All-RMAC picks. Snell is the RMAC preseason pitcher of the year.

“I expect pitching to be the strength of this club, with the returning guys back and their experience,” Colorado Mesa coach Chris Hanks said. “We have a couple real nice additions. I’m excited to see them pitch. I told them we expect them to be a strength.”

Snell, Christensen and Evans combined to start 40 of Mesa’s 56 games last season. They pitched eight complete games and won a combined 21 games. The Mavericks (35-21) won the RMAC tournament last season and qualified for the NCAA regionals for the eighth time in the past 10 years.

Add Garrett Carpenter to the rotation and the Mavericks’ bullpen might not see many innings this season.

Carpenter is back and healthy after Tommy John surgery in May 2010.

“I think we have a strong staff,” Snell said. “Three of us had great years last year. Garrett makes us stronger.”

Catcher Colton Schoelkopf, who was a second-team Gold Glove recipient, returns with infielders Braden Box, Dustin Fackrell, Colton Little and preseason All-RMAC outfielder Jeff Popick.

Several new players are expected to fit in and contribute immediately, including junior college transfers Justin Rosales, Erik Kozel, Mitch Corwin and Josh Demello and Montrose graduate Nate Robertson.

Robertson and Rosales will play middle infield. Kozel, Corwin and Demello will see time in the outfield.

Demello played for the Community College of Southern Nevada with Bryce Harper in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series in 2010. Corwin was a NJCAA Division II All-American.

Transfers Jake Kluege (New Mexico) and Bobby Kozine (Pepperdine/Sonoma State) will compete for time in the outfield.

Senior Zach Barger (Fruita Monument) has worked hard in the offseason, Hanks said, and will be in the mix at first base with Fackrell and freshman Kevin Mitchell.

Junior college transfers Rob Pena and Tim Fowler will split time with Schoelkopf behind the dish.

The Mavericks received six of the eight first-place votes to win the RMAC. CMU is picked to win the Mountain Division, receiving seven of eight first-place votes.

Colorado Mesa begins the season Feb. 3 with a four-game series at Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University.


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