HCAC Tabs Trio of Jackets as Players to Watch
DEFIANCE, Ohio – The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference announced its 2009 Preseason Players to Watch for the upcoming baseball season on Tuesday. Defiance placed Tim Pitro, Kirk Jesse and Brad Timofeev on the 36-man list.
The preseason honor is the second in as many years for Pitro, who is set to anchor the Defiance offense once again during the upcoming season. The rising junior second baseman was named the HCAC Freshman of the Year in 2006, before taking Second-Team All-HCAC honors one year ago. Pitro started all 33 games for the Jackets in 2008 and led the squad with a .361 batting average, 26 runs scored, a .475 slugging percentage and a .435 on-base clip. Pitro continued his reputation as one of the toughest outs in the league by hitting safely in all but four games and striking out just six times in 122 at bats.
Jesse is coming off of a breakout season at the plate for the Yellow Jackets and was named to the HCAC Watch List for the first time, after garnering Honorable Mention All-HCAC status one year ago. The rising junior will look to build on a career year with the bat in 2008, when he led DC with 132 at bats, nine doubles, three home runs, 16 runs batted in and logged personal bests with a .295 average and a healthy .447 slugging percentage from his leadoff slot. Jesse ranked third among all HCAC hitters with 92 at bats in league games and ended the year on a nine-game hitting streak.
Timofeev was an All-HCAC performer in 2007 and is making his second-straight stint on the HCAC Preseason Players-to-Watch List. The rising senior settled in as the ace of the Yellow Jacket rotation one year ago, while also providing a boost on offense during his limited time in the lineup. Timofeev set career highs with 11 appearances, eight games started, 53 innings and 24 strikeouts while on the bump for Defiance and was fifth in the HCAC with 44 innings of work in league action. Timofeev also excelled at the plate, posting a .319 average and a .396 on-base percentage in 47 at bats.
Pitro, Jesse and Timofeev will highlight a group of 20 returning lettermen for Defiance in 2009. Included in that lengthy list of returners are seven offensive starters and a group of pitchers which accounted for nearly 90 percent of the innings pitched and all but three starts from one year ago.
Second-year skipper, Derek Woodley, will blend that experience with an incoming class of 21 freshmen, as the Jackets look to build the program into an HCAC contender.