Each year the University of the Cumberlands (UC) baseball program has high expectations to win the Mid-South Conference (MSC). Their desire to be the best and will power to overcome all obstacles could land them in Idaho for the NAIA World Series. Over the past 10 seasons, the Patriots have won over 360 games, claimed three Mid-South Conference Regular Season Championships, and a MSC Tournament Championship. The team has also competed in 5 NAIA Regional Tournaments or what is known as the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament. The expectations for 2012 are no different. The coaching staff firmly believes that this team has the "it factor" and "swag" to bring the MSC title back home to continue the tradition of excellence.
The starting rotation will see three returners from last season; with the leader being senior Clint Davis (Chico, CA) who looks to improve upon last season's performance when he gained valuable MSC experience. In 2011, Davis had 13 appearances with 8 starts and 1 complete game going 4-4 on the season with a 5.53 ERA in 40.2 innings pitched while striking out 33. Also looking to make an impact is senior Duncan Kaai-Ebert (Kapolei, HI) whose season was cut short last year due to injury. His 2011 campaign included 5 appearances with 1 start going 1-0 with an 8.10 ERA in 10.0 innings pitched and striking out 4 batters. Another returner that looks to eat up some innings for the Patriots is sophomore Donovan Feenstra (Calgary, Canada). Feenstra had a stellar freshman campaign and looks to improve in all aspects of his game. Feenstra had 10 appearances with 6 starts under his belt with a 2-2 record on the season and a 7.03 ERA while striking out 24 batters in 24.1 innings of work.
Newcomers that could contribute as starting pitchers are junior college transfers Matt Adams (Georgia Perimeter College) and Sandro Ferreira (West-Chester College) as well as Jason Rodriguez (Faulkner University). These three players bring veteran experience to the mound after being tested at their other universities and colleges.
The bullpen will be manned by a lot of returners and newcomers this season. Senior Quentin Bowman (Knoxville, TN) had a great season in 2011 as the closer and received MSC Honorable Mention. Bowman had 13 appearances, with a 1-0 record. He finished last season with 7 saves and is chasing the record for saves in a season while looking to climb into the top five for saves in a career. Junior Adam Biller (Bowling Green, KY) will look to become a leader out of the bullpen after having 10 relief appearances in 2011 with a 1-0 record. Sophomore Quentin Warriner (Russell Springs, KY) looks to improve on his freshman season after having 3 appearances with a 2.45 ERA.
Newcomers that will be counted on in the bullpen include 2011 red-shirt Drew Morgan (Elizabethtown, KY), Division I transfer Sam Pepper (Francis Marion University), and junior college transfers Jordan Quinzon (Diablo Valley College) and Cole Stickler (Hiwasee College).
The outfield returns two starters from the 2011 season; juniors Blake Debacher (Miami, FL) and Charles Hyde (Fort Mitchell, KY). Debacher started 47 games for the Patritots in 2011 and hit .252 with 35 hits, 6 doubles, 29 RBI's, 22 BB's, and 6 stolen bases. Hyde hit .233 with 24 hits, 5 doubles, 13 RBI's, and 4 stolen bases.
Newcomers to the Patriots outfield include Division I transfers Daniel Lokesak (Northern Kentucky University) and Sam Pepper (Francis Marion University); along with freshman Ryan DaSilva (Suwanee High School).
A seasoned group of veterans return to the Patriots infield for the 2012 season. The core group of players plays very well together and is well rounded to make a huge impact on the MSC race. Second baseman Justin Jackson (Jacksonville, FL) and third baseman Evan Bennett (Winchester, KY) are seniors that are looking to continue their hot play. Jackson was a MSC Honorable Mention in 2011 after starting 34 games batting .360 with 41 hits, 8 doubles, 1 triple, 26 RBI's, and 19 stolen bases. Bennett was an MSC Gold Glove winner at third base and an MSC Honorable Mention. He had 43 hits and averaged .289 with 1 homerun, 7 doubles, 2 triples, 24 RBI's, and 6 stolen bases. Sophomore Jared Martin (Cythiana, KY) looks to continue to turn heads after a marvelous freshman year into much greater accomplishments. Martin was MSC All-Conference performer in 2011 and earned MSC Freshman of the Year. He started every game for the Patriots hitting .371 with 62 hits, 1 homerun, 11 doubles, 31 RBI's, and 5 stolen bases. Sophomore Jameson DeBord (Lancaster, KY) will look to provide depth for the Patriots after hitting .375 last season.
Newcomers for the Patriot infield include 2011 red-shirt Blake Potter (Jacksboro, TN) and transfer Brandon Napier (Sinclair Community College); along with freshmen Joshua Perez (John A. Feruson High School) and Jason Fibel (Lafayette High School).
The Patriots return senior Andrew Fox (Seymour, TN) and sophomore Chris Appelman (Elizabethtown, KY) behind the plate. Fox was a valuable asset behind the plate starting 52 games getting MSC Honorable Mention honors in 2011 hitting .309 with 54 hits, 4 homeruns, 8 doubles, 1 triple, 32 RBI's, and 1 stolen base. Appelman hit .231 during the 2011 campaign.
Newcomers behind the plate include transfer John Doolittle (Georgia Perimeter College); with freshmen Darrell King (McCreary Central High School) and Zach McRoberts (Fleming County High School).
Coach Brad Shelton returns for his 11th season as the Head Coach of the Patriots and expects great things out of his team this year. The Patriots are returning 6 position players that will be relied on as the pitching staff grows into a seasoned group throughout the season. The recruiting class added several key acquisitions to all aspects of the team. The newcomers and the seasoned veterans should combine for a deep playoff run. Coach Shelton has won 364 games in his first 10 seasons with the Patriots while losing 194 games (.652 winning percentage). Overall in his 16th year as a head coach he has a .678 winning percentage.
The competition is tough for the Patriots in 2012 as the 55 games schedule consists of 10 games against teams ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25 and NCAA Division I Eastern Kentucky University. Three of the games are against #12 Union College and three against Campbellsville University (RV) and Shawnee St. (RV).
The Patriots will spend a lot of time this season at home as they will host 29 of their 55 games at Doyle Buhl Stadium in 2012.