Penn State Nittany Lions
Head Coach: Robbie Wine
2006 record: 20-36 (13-29 in conference play)
2006 RPI: 174
Projected 2007 Finish:
Baseball America - 8th
Collegiate Baseball - 8th
At The Plate: 2B Matt Cavagnaro (.292/4 HR/31 RBI) should be in the mix for an all-conference selection. After posting good numbers during the regular season last year, Cavagnaro had a strong summer in the Texas League. 1B Corey Wine has the highest batting average (.306) amongst the returning starters and should begin to exhibit some long ball power this year. OF Brian Ernst finished a point behind Wine in batting average a year ago and should hold down one of the corner outfield spots. Some of the folks in Happy Valley are intrigued by a pair of junior college transfers -- C Rob Yodice and 3B/OF Mike Deese.
On The Mound: This might be the Nittany Lions strength heading into the year. PSU returns three of its starters from a year ago -- Mark Wyner (3-8, 4.46), Seth Whitehill (2-3, 3.33) and Craig Clark (3-8, 5.50). Another JUCO product, Ryan Stobart could grab a weekend slot, as well. Coach Wine also has a number of veteran arms returning to his bullpen. If the staff can take the next step in the maturation process, PSU could have a solid pitching staff in 2007.
The Schedule: I can sum up Penn State’s schedule in one word. That word is difficult. The highlights of their non-conference action are three at national runner-up North Carolina and another three game set at Wichita State. Did I mention that Oral Roberts also appears on their pre-conference slate, too? Their Big Ten journey concludes with back-to-back weekend series at Michigan and at home versus Ohio State.
Bottom Line: It’s all about the new ballpark at PSU this spring. Medlar Field at Lubrano Park is the Nittany Lions new home. If it can create some additional interest and revenue for the baseball program, this season should probably be considered a success. However, you are looking for a prediction, aren’t you? Well, as usual, your guess is as good as mine. Probably better. I could make a case that PSU could finish anywhere between fourth and ninth. Not a very bold statement, I admit. But, I just can’t get a feel for this year’s club.