FGCU Baseball Preview: Is This The Year?

The Eagles have a slew of talented arms and multiple returners on offense with good track records; is this the year Dave Tollett’s bunch breaks through?

The FGCU baseball program has had its share of talented rosters in its history. Producing one of Major League Baseball’s best pitchers in Chris Sale and having numerous players drafted in the past five years, there is no question the players have been there to make an NCAA Tournament appearance. In 2015, head coach Dave Tollett is working with a crew that has the potential to earn the program's first NCAA Tournament bid.

A solid rotation is always a necessity to win the 35-40 games it usually takes to earn an at-large berth in college baseball. At the top of their rotation, the Eagles will feature of the most complete pitchers in all of college baseball. Mike Murray broke onto the national scene with a remarkable 13-1 season, posting a 1.83 ERA in 103 innings, issuing only 14 walks the entire season. Murray has been named to the Preseason Golden Spikes Award List, which features 49 other standout players on their initial list. The A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year will look to anchor a staff that has the makings of a formidable unit.

Beginning the season, freshman Devin Smeltzer is behind Murray in the rotation. The highly touted lefty from New Jersey has a well-chronicled past; he’s overcome his childhood battle with cancer to be a talented pitcher with high upside. Coming off a solid 2014 season, Brady Anderson is slotted as the No. 3 starter to begin the year. Posting a 2.45 ERA in 69 2/3 innings over 24 appearances, including seven starts at the end of the season, Anderson has seen most of his time as the team’s closer in his career. However, the Arcadia, Fla. product showed he is more than capable of thriving in a starter’s role. With talented arms such as Jack English, Nick Deckert, Sterling Koerner, and Garrett Anderson, the depth of the pitching staff should be limitless to run through the season with success.

The Eagles lineup will feature the Atlantic Sun Preseason Player of the Year second baseman Jake Noll. Noll came out of nowhere to become one the conference’s premier players last season, posting a .367 average, 101 hits, and 25 stolen bases in 61 games. Earning the 2014 Louisville Slugger National Freshman of the Year, Noll will be the catalyst of the FGCU lineup. Returners Nick Rivera and Colton Bottomley will provide the power in the middle of the order; the pair combined for 12 home runs and 36 doubles last season. Catcher Blake Berger will look to build off of a solid stint last season, posting a .307 average in 27 games, and fellow returners Gage Morey and Tyler Selesky will provide depth throughout the lineup.

The Eagles will face a challenging schedule, opening with Central Michigan - who has been receiving votes in preseason polls in various publications. FGCU’s non-conference home slate is highlighted by visits from Big Ten opponents Illinois and Minnesota to Swanson Stadium, along with the first ever game against the Miami Hurricanes at Swanson. Road trips to ranked foes Florida State and Nebraska will be tough tests through the season. In A-Sun play, conference favorite Kennesaw State has been featured in the Top 20 in most publications around the country. This season’s series with the Owls will come in Kennesaw, Ga. Lipscomb and Jacksonville highlight the home conference schedule, with the conference hoping to be strong enough to earn two spots in the NCAA tournament this season.

FGCU Eagles Nest Top Stories