New Hampshire Hardball

PSU selected sixth

PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth State University baseball team was voted sixth in the Little East Conference (LEC) Preseason Coaches’ Poll following a vote of the league’s nine head coaches.

Southern Maine, ranked sixth in the NCBWA/ national poll, captured six first-place votes to lead the conference with 62 points. UMass Boston, No. 16 in the same rankings, collected two first-place votes for 56 points, with Rhode Island College (48) grabbing the final first place vote to round out the top three.

UMass Dartmouth (43) and Eastern Connecticut (37) occupy fourth and fifth, with PSU and Castleton tied at sixth with 25 points apiece. Keene State (18) and WestConn (10) round out the final two spots.

Head coach Clay Jenkins enters his fifth season at the helm. PSU established a number of program records last spring, including runs scored (290), home runs (38), runs batted in (257) and matching the mark for steals in a game (12). Additionally, the Panthers broke fourteen individual records while Jenkins mentored the program’s first-ever First Team All-American and LEC Player of the Year.

Senior James Salta (Laconia, N.H.) was one of the Panthers’ top hitters last spring, posting a .297 average while smacking eight doubles and four home runs. He was also among the team leaders in runs scored (31) and RBIs (24). Classmate Jimmy Zimolka (Londonderry, N.H.) wreaked havoc on the bases after swiping a league-leading 33 bags last year. His .289 average trails only Salta among returners with at least 50 at bats, while he also slugged four dingers and eight doubles.

Senior Alex Larson (Brunswick, Maine) and sophomore Derek Walker (Littleton, N.H.) are two of the top returning pitchers. Larson’s 26.1 innings pitched are the most among returners. He went 1-2 record with two saves and struck out 16. Walker posted a 5.32 ERA over 23.2 innings, going 0-1 with a save and striking out nearly a batter an inning. Jenkins also looks forward to a full season from senior Tyler Brown (Littleton, N.H.), who was solid in his first three starts before missing the final 28 games of the year due to injury.

Plymouth State opens the regular season against Eastern Nazarene at the New England Baseball Complex on Feb. 25, before making its annual spring break trip to Florida for 11 games in nine games. The Panthers hope to play their home opener on April 4 against LEC-foe Eastern Connecticut.


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