Spring Sports Preview 2019

Compiled by: Tim Klapac, Muhammad Waheed, Jordan Kendall, John Hack, Cyan Thomas, Glenn Kaplan

Photo by Brendan Felch/ The Towerlight, Illustration by Victoria Nicholson/ The Towerlight

MLAX

The Tigers return with some high expectations entering their 2019 campaign. These expectations were heavily reinforced after a 17-8 opening day victory against then-seventh-ranked Johns Hopkins followed by a 12-7 win over Mount St. Mary’s.

However, this year’s team is also playing with a chip on their shoulder, stemming from a disappointing  7-8 finish last season and just missing out on a fourth-consecutive Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship with a 12-8 loss to the University of Massachusetts in the final.

Head Coach Shawn Nadelen enters his ninth year at the helm for the Tigers and expressed his appreciation for how this year’s team has handled adversity coming into the season and taken initiative.

“I feel like our leadership is much stronger this year,” Nadelen said. “We have a great senior class that has really done a good job embracing the team….and making sure that their senior year is special not just for them, but for the team.”

With every new season comes fresh faces. In addition to the freshman class, there has been a new name added to the sideline in defensive coordinator Steve Grossi.

Grossi arrives to Towson after coached for two seasons at Richmond.

“Coach Grossi brings a great idea of intensity and passion to the position,” Nadelen said. “Being a defensive coordinator, his communication is terrific with the guys. He’s very clear and concise…making sure the guys are prepared.”

Towson returns nine seniors, and many of those players played a big role in team scoring.

The Tigers have a strong core class at midfield with Alex Woodall, Timmy Monahan, Zack Goodrich and Grant Maloof.

Expected to be starting in between the pipes is junior Tyler Canto. Canto is a first-year transfer from UMass-Lowell, and has therefore only seen listed action thus far.

If the chips fall into place and the team is able to stay healthy this spring, students and fans alike can have a good feeling about how the team can grow as the season progresses.

“I think you’re gonna see what Towson University is within our lacrosse program,” Nadelen said “We’re going to be a group that’s a bunch of hard-working, blue collar guys that get out there and compete for each other and rally around each other.They love the opportunity to wear the black and gold and represent Towson.”

WLAX

There is unfinished business for the Tigers heading into the 2019 season after they lost 21-17 to the Northwestern Wildcats at home in the second-round of the postseason last year.

“It’s definitely one of our driving motivators,” said Head Coach Sonia Lamonica.

She will be entering her ninth season at the helm. Towson finished with a solid 16-5 record last season, falling to the James Madison Dukes in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) title game last season.

The Tigers were ranked 11th in the country to start the season, but fell to Penn State 13-7 in their season opener.

“I like how we get underestimated year after year,” Lamonica said. “We feed off of being underdogs.”

Some of the key opponents Towson will be facing this season are the Dukes, the Loyola Greyhounds, the John Hopkins Blue Jays and the Navy Midshipmen.

“It’s a necessity in order to become a nationally prominent program,” LaMonica said. “We want to come out on top.”

Towson returns several key players, including sophomore attacker Kaitlin Thornton and senior attackers Natalie Sulmonte and Carly Tellekamp.

“They have good leadership on the field,” LaMonica said. “They are competing at a high level in practice.”

Sulmonte scored 50 goals and recorded 25 assists last season. Tellekamp contributed 46 goals and added four assists last season. Thornton tallied 31 goals and posted 16 assists last season.

Junior defenseman Olivia Conti was the CAA Defensive Player of the Year last season. She is also the preseason CAA Defensive Player of the Year. She led the NCAA last season with 52 caused turnovers.

The Tigers’ home opener will be on Friday, March 1 against the Stony Brook Seawolves. Towson opens conference play on the road on Sunday, April 7 against James Madison.

Baseball

Last season, Towson endured many growing pains under first-year head coach Matt Tyner, finishing with a 13-42 record, going6-18 in conference play. Tyner believes that will all change as a slew of new players are geared to take the field and kick off a new season.

“We went back to recruiting character as much as we did ability,” Tyner said. “Last year, you saw one, maybe two guys in a cage together. This year, there’s six, seven, eight guys.”

There are many areas that the Tigers looks to improve upon this season, and it starts with building team chemistry with this new group of players. Towson traveling to North Carolina, Georgia, and California in the first month of the season is a rare, early opportunity to create that chemistry

“It is important for us to build a little bit of chemistry not only on the field, but off the field and the best way to do that is when you’re sequestered on a trip with 42 of your favorite people,” Tyner said.

Another area of concern is on the mound, where the Tigers led the conference in both wild pitches and passed balls last season. Assistant Coach Miles Miller expressed his confidence in addressing this issue.

“We’ve added more depth, we’re a little more balanced and more mature with our mentality on the mound,” Miller said. “We felt like we had some good arms at the front last year, we asked them to do so much that at some point they hit a wall.”

With only 12 players returning from last year’s roster, there is a changing of the guard in terms of leadership, and senior infielder Richard Miller is taking on that role.

Miller is the returning home run hitter on the roster, and he made significant strides over the summer, capturing the Prospect League’s Mike Schmidt Player of the Year Award.

“This summer, he went off with a new confidence and came back a much better hitter,” said Assistant Coach Tanner Biagini. “You take some young freshmen, and if they can look up to him and copy his work ethic, we’re going to be in a good place.”

The rebuilding process taken on by coach Tyner involves more than just wins and losses, but growing the program overall, and the improvements made to John B. Schuerholz Park are a sign of this growth.

Towson opened its season at Davidson over the weekend and prepare to head off to Kennesaw State this weekend. The Tigers’ home opener against Lehigh is scheduled for March 1 at 2 p.m. at Schuerholz Park.

Track & Field

Spring sports are almost here, which means that the track and field program will be competing outdoors soon.

Younger athletes have made their impact during the cross country and indoor seasons. The team has an important expectation for its younger athletes.

“We have a lot of expectations for them and also a lot of responsibility that is required so it’s getting them to focus on some of the basic things they need to do,” said Head Coach Mike Jackson. “We want to be able to help them and understand that they are a huge part of our performance for our team and know that they’re valued.”

Jackson has high aspirations for how far the team can go this season..

“Our goal is to win another conference championship and to bring more student-athletes to the NCAA championships.” Jackson said.

Jackson has a plan to help his team attain success this season.

“Focus, focusing on our team, focusing on the process, looking at the big picture, having a big vision and understanding that things don’t always come to you right away,” Jackson said. “I really think those are some of the factors that are going to get us to win.”

The Tigers will host the Towson Invitational on Saturday, April 6.

“We want to win it and have great competition, great performances for our team and be able to have all our friends, fans and family be able to watch us in one venue,” Jackson said.

The outdoor track and field season begins on the weekend of March 15. Towson will compete in the Doc Anderson Invitational, a two-day meet, in Troy, Alabama.

The Tigers will make multiple appearances in their home state, visiting College Park on March 16, Annapolis on March 30 and Baltimore on April 12, 19-20.

Tennis

Towson’s season is already in full swing, coming out of its first six matches with a 1-5 record.

Towson alumni Jamie Peterson, who is entering his second year as head coach, has several goals for the Tigers this spring.

“For one, I want us to have a definable, improved record from last season,” Peterson said. “I want to finish top four in the conference and I would like us to win at least two-thirds of our doubles points.”

Assistant Coach Debbie Holtschneider, who played at Lander University, and volunteer assistant Greg Selby are also at the right hand of Peterson.

Last year, the team finished with an even 12-12 record and did not finish top four in the conference.

This year, there is almost an entirely new team of 11 comprised of three seniors, one sophomore, one junior and six freshmen.

Of the 11 on the team, five are international players who made the trip to America for the opportunity to play college tennis.

Freshman Jessica Assenmacher is an international student from South Africa who was ranked No. 1 in her country in juniors doubles.

Fellow freshman Phoebe Collins, an international student from England, was ranked top 30 juniors in England.

Freshman Themis Haliou, from Cyprus, was a member of the National Federation Cup team in her home country.

Peterson fawned over his new players and was excited upon discovering them and hearing of their achievements.

“Amelia Lawson, a freshman from New Zealand, was a top five junior player in her country and was voted Emerging Sportswoman of the Year,” Peterson said.

Throughout the season, the Tigers will face some tough opponents, a few of which stand out to Peterson.

“We’re looking to be very mentally up against Drexel, Delaware and UNCW,” Peterson said. “They’re tough opponents.”

The team will conclude the season at the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championships in Elon, N.C. beginning April 18.

Softball

Coming off a successful 2018 season with a school record 42 wins, the Tigers enter this season looking to contend for a conference championship.

An appearance in the National Invitational Softball Championship results in high expectations. However, this season’s roster is almost brand new. Six seniors departed in the offseason, leaving only three seniors this year.

“We have a lot of new kids on this team, so I think the challenge for them is to live up to what last year’s team did,” said Head Coach Lisa Costello.

Towson’s roster consists of mostly freshmen, but Costello has been impressed with the upperclassmen and their ability to step up as leaders to mentor the newest Tigers.

“Our upperclassmen have all stepped up, our seniors and juniors have been awesome,” Costello said.

Among the key returning contriubtors is junior first baseman Madison Wilson, the top returning hitter from last year, hitting .389 with two home runs and 36 RBIs.

“Maddie is a good athlete and has worked hard to improve her defense,” Costello said.

Senior Nicole Stockinger tied the school record in home runs with 15 while also collecting 56 RBIs and had a .347 batting average. Her versatility as a utility player is invaluable to the team.

Towson hit .327 as a team last season while keeping opponents to a .272 average.

On the mound, the Tigers return two starting pitchers in sophomore Melissa Abrahamian and junior Julia Smith-Harrington.

Abrahamian started 15 games, and Smith-Harrington got the call for 13. Abrahamian recorded 58 strikeouts, which leads the returning Tigers. Each pitcher finished tied for second on the team with seven victories each.  

“Both returners and our transfer will help the younger girls transition to college ball,” Costello said.

Towson’s season began Feb. 8 at the USC Upstate Tournament, where the Tigers went 2-2. They followed that up with another split weekend at Coastal Carolina, moving them to 4-4.

The Tigers will travel for the first month of the season before their home opener at the Towson Invitational on March 1-3. Towson will face Yale, Hartford and Monmouth over the course of that weekend.

Costello sees the road trips to begin the year as a positive, given the chilly weather at home.

“It’s an advantage to head south to play in warmer weather,” she said. “It gives us a chance to bond as a team.

The Tigers will open up conference play on March 23 when they travel to UNC Wilmington.

Towson’s next game will be Friday, Feb. 22 at the Furman Tournament in Greenville, South Carolina.

Women’s Golf

Towson is looking forward to the upcoming spring season and a chance to improve on its third overall finish last season in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament.

The Tigers were glad to get into warmer weather and play plenty of rounds in Florida over the winter break. Although she was mum on the details of the off-season training, Head Coach Lisa Ferrero revealed that her young team was more focused on general development and not scores.

“I’m not sure exactly what they did,” Ferrero said. “All I know is they worked on their game and they showed me what they were working on.”

Ferrero believes that this year’s squad is one of the most talented that Towson has put together.

Sophomore Sarah Perine, finished tied for 21st and is in mid-season form after shooting the lowest stroke score at 1080 during the Fall season.

Senior Jenny Buchanan comes into spring ready to improve on her 32nd place finish in the CAA tournament last spring. Junior Erica Han led the Tigers with a 16th place finish in that tournament.

Ferrero set up a tough schedule this season as the team opens with the Kiawah Island Spring Classic, hosted by the College of Charleston, and then the Anuenue Spring Break Classic, hosted by Hawaii.

Both tournaments give Towson a chance to go toe-to-toe with premier programs.

“The goal is to just go back to the basics and have fun and play,” Ferrero said. “Enjoy what you’re doing instead of being scared about shooting a high number.    

With that type of schedule comes heightened pressure and expectations. However, Ferrero has been preaching that her kids enjoy the process and stick to what they know best.

“I don’t really put too many expectations on the players,” Ferrero said. “We just want to golf and do our best.”

The Kiawah Island Spring Classic tees off on Feb. 25 at the Kiawah Island Resort in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Men’s Golf

Head Coach Mike Larkin and the Towson University Men’s Golf program are looking forward to beginning a new season after the Tigers had a positive fall season. The team looks to build off these positives and improve throughout the spring position themselves to win the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship.

“Leading up to CAA play last season, we had played a lot in the Northeastern region in cold temperatures and rain and I do not think it is the best preparation for CAA’s,” Larkin said. “I scheduled three events in locations with better weather in order to practice and play in better conditions.”

A player to look out for this spring is sophomore Kobdech Rodrat, he goes by the nickname of “Game” and he surely has a ton of it on the golf course.

“Game is a good kid and he is only a sophomore so I expect him to continue to develop his game and keep improving,” Larkin said.

In the fall, Rodrat finished with a team-best 72.8 average over thirteen rounds.

The Tigers kick off their spring season Thursday, Feb. 21 in Goodyear, Arizona competing in the Loyola Invitational for the second consecutive year.

Senior William Bachelor had a remarkable outing in this event last year, finishing fourth individually with a score of 201 (68-65-68). With this historic performance, Bachelor is now the lowest scorer in any tournament in Towson men’s golf history at 15 under par. The score of 65 was a career low for Bachelor and also the third lowest round in the program’s history.

“Will was our lowest scoring average in the fall and I’m looking forward to seeing what he has in store for us in his final semester here,” Larkin said. “He was phenomenal at this event last year. I don’t expect him to make history again but I’m sure he will carry that good play over into next week.”

Towson will host its Spring Invitational tournament in early April at the Prospect Bay Country Club in Grasonville, Maryland.

The CAA Championships will take place at Pinehurst, North Carolina at the Pinehurst No. 8 course from April 19 through April 21.

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