Dover, Del (Feb. 16, 2017) --- The Delaware State baseball team opens its 2017 season with a three-game series at Charleston Southern of the Big South Conference this weekend.  The series begins with a single game on Friday beginning at 6 p.m. at CSU Ballpark.

The Hornets and Buccaneers will also play single games on Saturday (4:00 p.m.) and Sunday (2:00 p.m.).

Delaware State was 13-36 overall and second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Northern Division with a 13-10 record last season.

Charleston Southern posted a 19-34 overall record and 6-18 Big South mark during the 2016 season.   

The 2017 Delaware State squad features 20 returning letterwinners, 11 full-time pitchers and a position player who has experience on the mound.

Delaware State has been picked to finish second in the 2017 MEAC North race, according to a poll of league head coaches and sports information representatives.

The Hornets received one first place votes and 51 total points in the 2017 Northern Division poll, trailing only defending division champ Norfolk State, which collected 15 of 18 first place votes and 69 points. UMES was selected to finish third and Coppin State fourth in the North Division balloting.

Junior right-hander Lane DeLeon, a 2017 Preseason All-MEAC Second Team selection, is the staff ace. He was 2-5 with a 3.45 earned run average in 2016, and ranked sixth in the MEAC with a strikeout ratio of 8.4 per nine innings pitched (70 Ks in 75 innings).

DeLeon was 5-5 with a 3.12 earned run average as a freshman in 2015.   

Sophomore righty Sean McGrath (4-6; 6-14 ERA in 2016) is slated to start Saturday’s game at Charleston Southern, while freshman southpaw Garrett Lawson is scheduled to open on the hill on Sunday for the Hornets.

McGrath fanned 64 batters in 60 innings as a true freshman in 2016. He had two with 10-or-more strikeouts, punching out 11 vs. Coppin State in 5.2 innings and 10 UMES batters in seven frames last season.

Lawson was a Delaware All-State First Team selection as a senior at crosstown Dover High School.

The Hornet bullpen features closer Hunter McVey (jr), who led the team with three saves, while recording 31 strikeouts and 14 walks in 37 innings.  

Hard-throwing lefty Darrien Ragins (jr.) has been used as a starter, long reliever and closer in his career.

Terry Godfrey (jr.), a crafty left-hander, has been a spot starter, while Garrett Coverdale (jr.), Kyle Mace (jr.), Travis Dill (jr.) and Gabe Rivera (jr.) bring valuable experience to the staff.

The Hornets will also welcome the return of left-hander Jaylen Zielecki (sr.), who was limited to eight appearances on the mound (four starts) in 2016 due to a and injury. He was 1-1 with a 2.03 ERA in 13.1 innings.

As a sophomore in 2015, Zielecki was 3-2 and second on the Hornets with 37 strikeouts in 36 innings of work.

Last year’s top newcomer Todd Henry (so.) split time infield between second base and third base in 2016. A 2017 Preseason All-MEAC Second Team selection, Henry tops on the Hornets and eighth in the league with a .336 average as a true freshman last season. He also led the team in hits (51), runs scored (28), slugging percentage (.388) and on-base percentage (.420) in 2016.

Versatile Kwestin Smith (sr.) is the Hornets’ most experienced infielder. Smith batted. 250 with a team-high 13 stolen bases in 2016 (13-16). He was also fourth on the club in hits (39) and runs scored (22) last season.

Jake Bartlett (sr.) is an experienced first baseman, in addition to sharing some catching duties. Devin Beverly (jr.) is also an option in the infield

Newcomers Jeremy Lovera (fr.; 5-11, 185) and Tommy Jordan (fr.; 6-0, 160) will battle for playing time at shortstop.

Austin Bentley (jr.) and Darnel Maisonet (so.) are the top returners in the outfield.

A 2016 All-MEAC Second Team selection and a 2017 preseason Second Team pick, Bentley was the Hornets’ leader in runs batted in (32) third in batting (.270) and tied for second in hits (44) last season.

Maisonet, a 2016 newcomer was second on the team with a .282 average, while topping the Hornets in total bases (60) and doubles (11) a year ago. He also appeared in 12 games as a pitcher last season.

Rich Rountree (so.), Tomiko Seaz (so.) and Beverly (jr.) will also battle for outfield playing time this season.

The Hornets are deep at the catcher position.

Jake Bartlett (sr.) is a catcher by trade, but spent a great deal of time at first base in 2016. Adrian Hill (so.) gained valuable experience as a true freshman last season, while Chris Mako (so.) and newcomer Ciaran Devenney (fr.) are also available to handle the duties behind the plate.  

In addition to Charleston Southern, the Hornets will face George Washington, The Citadel, Delaware, Towson, Manhattan, Navy, Rider, La Salle. Fairleigh Dickinson and St. Bonaventure in non-conference action this season.

DSU’s home opener is Mar. 7 against Towson at Soldier Field.

The Hornets begin Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play with a three-game series at Norfolk State. The teams will open the series with a doubleheader on Mar. 18 and play a single game on the 19th.

The 2017 MEAC Tournament is scheduled for May 17-21 at Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, Md.

Delaware State baseball