CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern baseball begins this weekend as the Buccaneers host Delaware State at the CSU Ballpark on February 17-19. The Bucs open the season with 11 of their first 12 games at home before traveling to Florida International on March 9-11.
The Bucs enter their first season under the helm of interim head coach Adam Ward and will host 29 games at the CSU Ballpark in 2017.
In the week leading up to the season opener, the CSU Sports Information Department will break down the Buccaneers' roster starting on Monday with the catchers.
Sconzo returns to lead the catching corps for the Buccaneers in the 2017 season. The junior backstop started 49 games at catcher for CSU in the 2016 season and was a mainstay in the heart of the Bucs' lineup, hitting .280 from the plate. He finished fourth on the team with 47 hits and added five doubles and 17 RBI.
Delongchamps redshirted the 2016 season after coming to the Bucs as a decorated athlete from Wando High School. The 6-4 redshirt freshman became the first athlete in Wando history to win state championships in baseball and basketball, and he was key to the Warriors' 4A state baseball championship in 2015.
Andrew and Smith have been weapons on the CSU pitching staff over the last two seasons and will also potentially see time behind the plate in 2017.
Notes about the CSU Catchers
- Sconzo had a season-high 10-game hitting streak in 2016, ending at Clemson on May 17
- Sconzo threw out 17 attempted base stealers
- Sconzo finished fourth on the team with 12 multi-hit games
- Sconzo started 49 of the 53 games CSU played in the 2016 season; Aschenbrenner started the other four contests on the year
- Delongchamps was a member of Wando's 4A men's basketball state championship team in 2015
- Delongchamps also received national acclaim including a segment on ESPN for his rhythmic ribbon interpretation of the Chariots of Fire theme song on the field at a Charleston Riverdogs home game in 2015 (watch here)
- Andrew hit .313 as a senior at South Point High School in Belmont, N.C. with a .375 OBP and 19 RBI
- Smith finished his final two seasons in high school with a .390 batting average in 2014 and a .489 batting average in 2013
Ward on the CSU Catchers
"We are excited to have Mike Sconzo returning after his very solid 2016 season. He does an outstanding job defensively and handles our pitching staff very well. We also glad to have a few other talented options in Jack Delongchamps, Adam Andrew, and Cody Smith. They are all capable of providing quality innings behind the plate." – CSU Interim head coach Adam Ward on the catchers.
Q&A with junior catcher Mike Sconzo
All this time and preparation for the 2017 season and you're less than a week away from first pitch. What goes through your mind as you continue to prepare for the 2017 season?
"I think back through all of the work that we put in the fall. Those early mornings, the 6 a.m. workouts every day, have been baby steps preparing us for the season. Spring is a grind, but being with these guys all the time has been preparing us for the long season ahead."
It's almost a brand-new roster this season with 17 new players on the team. As one of the leaders on the squad, how have you worked with the newcomers to prepare for the year?
"I remember being the new guy looking around to see what everyone else is doing. I try to set an example. I'm not one who's going to get up in front of the team and fire them up, but if I can bring the energy, I hope it feeds off to them, and so far it has. This new group we've got a lot of energy and characters and it will be a fun season."
As a catcher, there is a lot of work that goes into getting prepared for every series and game. How do you prepare for the daily grind of the season and how do you keep everyone focused?
"I try to look at every day the same. As long as I'm bringing energy, that will feed to everybody. There are days, like Sundays at the end of a weekend series, when you're tired, but that's when I need to bring it the most. When my teammates see me bring it, they can feed off it and get through it too."
A lot of home games early in the season are good for a team to relax and get on a roll. What are you most looking forward to the early schedule?
"I just love the beginning part of the year. Everybody is fresh and locked in. It's early on and that's when the team energy is the highest. As long as we stay the course through those first games and get some wins, it will be fun. Plus, it's also warm down here in Charleston and I'd rather stay here in the warm weather."
Any series/dates you have circled on the calendar for this season?
"I'm really looking forward to the FIU trip. We're going down to Florida and I will have a decent amount of family there. It's during Spring Break, so I might have a couple of cousins flying down and got a cousin that goes to Miami that might come up. Campbell is another I look forward to because that's close to my home. I'll have my parents, family, and friends there."
What do you have to say to encourage fans to come out to the Ballpark and watch the Bucs this season?
"I would just tell them to come out and bring energy; it can be a lot of fun. You can find ways to come out and heckle the other team like they do in basketball. They can do the same thing in baseball. Come out and support and we'll give you the best we can."