Seniors Greg Appleton and T.J. Murphy are the other two returning everyday starters for the Bulldogs along with catcher David Fanshawe. Appleton played mostly first base but also saw action at second and third last season. He batted .361 with 13 doubles, 17 homers and 58 RBIs, part of the Bulldogs potent offense that belted a school-record 141 home runs.
The Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, native did not receive the fanfare of some of his teammates last season, but his insertion into the leadoff spot midway though last season solidified an already potent lineup.
Appleton will start the year playing third base but will also see time at first base, especially when Mike Mandarino pitches. Appleton may also play a little outfield this season against lefthanded pitching because of the plethora of lefthanded hitters in the Bulldog lineup.
Murphy played in 48 games with 36 starts last year, batting .315 with three doubles and 10 RBIs. He scored 23 runs, walked 16 times and was also hit six times. He started everyday during the last month of the season, as the Bulldogs won 29 of their last 30 games to end the year.
“Both [Appleton and Murphy] are really good players. Appleton is really a sleeper for our team and was all of last year. He doesn’t get the publicity of some of the other players but he is really a top player for us. We’re trying to use him in different positions this year – first base, third base, maybe the outfield – but he’s a really good hitter who knows how to play the game. He hit 17 home runs last year.
“When we made the move to put him in the leadoff spot last year, it really made a big difference for our team. Even though we have a better-type leadoff guy for this year, I’m still thinking about leaving him in that spot because he was so effective.”
Mike Mandarino along with Appleton and Cleveland State Community College transfer Cody Ferrell will all play first base. Mandarino will pitch plenty for the Bulldogs and DH some as well, but his at will never be out of the lineup.
Cumberland came out of fall practice prepared for Tommy Crews, a transfer from Palm Beach Community College, to fill the starting role at shortstop, but Tommy Winegardner transferred at the semester break and will likely take that spot. Winegardner played his freshman year at Coastal Carolina University and spent last season at Polk State College. The St. Leonard, Md., native was at College of Charleston this past fall.
“[Winegardner] is a really good player. We’re glad he came our way. We really couldn’t turn him down. He is also a legitimate closer who has that game-type makeup you look for,” Hunt said. “He’s a switch hitter with some speed who has good range at short. He gives us a really solid player at that position and at the plate too.”
Crews will see plenty of playing time in the Bulldog infield, whether at third base or several other positions, including second base and shortstop and maybe a little behind the plate. His versatility provides Hunt with some much-needed options with two position players who are also pitchers.
“[Crews] is very versatile defensive player. We really like what he can do defensively for us. He’ll be a valuable player for our team and also has some offensive ability.
“We have some flexibility in the infield. With these moves, players have to accept their roles to make our team better, but I think they will. You’ll see a different lineup when Mandarino pitches, but we have the other parts to make that work very successfully.”