January 28, 2016
Gainesville, FL – The Santa Fe baseball team starts their 2016 season at home against Hillsborough CC on Friday, January 29 at 3:00 PM, while the fastpitch softball team takes to the road on January 30 for the annual JUCO Kick-Off Classic in Clearwater against two teams from Florida, and one from Georgia.
The baseball team will be breaking in their new facilities on Friday, with SF College President Jackson Sasser opening the season with a ceremonial first pitch at 2:55 PM. The athletics department will be giving away popcorn and peanuts to all in attendance. Fans who can't make it can watch live on the Saints Sports Network.
Coach Johnny Wiggs and the Saints return seven players from last year's 31-12 team. Key returners include starting pitcher Trent Johnson (9-1, 2.07 ERA, 73 K, 9 BB in 2015), who will take the mound on opening day, and catcher Matt Allen who hit .382 with 38 RBI as a freshman. Both were First Team All Mid-Florida Conference selections. RHP David Lee joins the team from Florida International University and has already signed a scholarship with the University of Florida. RHP Troy Bacon joins the team as a mid-season transfer from UF, adding to the Saints pitching depth.
Santa Fe hit .333 as a team in the fall and will look to build on their success when the regular season begins on Friday.
"We are all very excited to start the 2016 season, start playing games, and see how we measure up," said Wiggs. "We had a good year last season (31-12, 17-6 in conference) and hope to build upon that this year. We return five position players and two pitchers from last year that will play big roles and our newcomers that we brought in are very talented."
The fastpitch team opens their season on Saturday, January 30 with three games at the Kick-off Classic. Game one will see them face off against Pensacola State College at 11:00 AM, Eastern Florida State College at 3:20 PM, and they wrap the day up against Georgia Military College at 5:40 PM.
The Saints have 10 players returning from a team that went 22-27, but are poised to make big strides after a very successful fall. Coach Chris Ahenr is excited about the players she has, and is looking forward to a successful season.
"Down to the very last player on this roster, they are focused on the field, and intense in their games," said Ahern. "They looked good in the fall, played all out all the time, and we are hoping they can pick that back up and take it into season while continuing to build on it. Some are fast, some are powerful, some are both. They are good team players and are a pleasure to be around. We are enjoying working with this group."
Leading the returners is 2015 team offensive player of the year Sarah Ortiz, a .309 hitter who smashed four homeruns and drove in 16. One of the most improved players from 2015 is also back to anchor the infield. Kiandraliz Vega hit over .300 in the second half of last year and finished with a .284 average, something she hopes to improve on.
The pitching situation is more fluid for Ahern as just one player from last year's rotation returns. Chelsea Malcolm had a 2.78 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched, while also splitting time as the designated player. Offensively she hit three homeruns and drove in 19.
The pieces are in place for both the baseball and fastpitch teams to have successful seasons. Both teams have their eye on a Mid-Florida Conference championship, and a berth at the FCSAA Tournament. Their road to the tournament begins this weekend.
Select games will be broadcast live on the Saints Sports Network, including both team's home openers
For complete schedules, stats, and more information please visit www.santafesaints.com.