Baseball: Hawks open 2012 season at Emporia StateFebruary 19, 2012

Mark Sappington

Rockhurst will have plenty of familiar faces take the field when the Hawks open the 2012 baseball season Wednesday afternoon at eighth-ranked Emporia State.

Head coach Gary Burns welcomes back 10 starters from last year’s team, which finished with a 23-26 record and a fourth-place finish in the Great Lakes Valley Conference West Division.

Senior first baseman Ryan Porter and junior pitcher Mark Sappington are the top two returners for the Hawks.

Porter led the GLVC with a .390 batting average while hitting six home runs and driving in 29 runs in 2011. A first-team All-GLVC and ABCA All-Midwest Region honoree last year, Porter was rated as the No. 29 Division II prospect by Perfect Game USA.

Sappington is ranked as the second best Division II prospect, according to Perfect Game USA. He posted a 6-4 record with a 3.51 ERA and 67 strikeouts last year.

The pitching staff will be bolstered by senior Mark Himmelberg (6-5, 5.93 ERA) and junior Nick Lichtenberger (3-1, 4.07). Junior college transfer Josh Tols and freshman Zach Loeffelholz are the top two new arms to the staff.

Juniors Patrick Chandler and Brandon Tangney give the Hawks a pair of solid outfielders. Chandler hit .376 with four home runs and 26 RBIs to earn All-GLVC honors. Tangney hit .342 with one home run and 27 RBIs.

Senior third baseman Scott Bradbury (.321-3-18), junior shortstop Anthony Davis and sophomore second baseman Tyler Gans return as infield starters. Senior T.J. Dailey (.309-3-22) also returns as the starting catcher.

Rockhurst was picked to finish fourth in the GLVC West Division Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Defending champion Quincy was picked to win the GLVC West Division. Southern Indiana finished first in the GLVC East Division poll.

The Hawks, who will play seven games in Florida during spring break, are scheduled to play nine conference doubleheaders at the Loyola Park Baseball Field. The GLVC Tournament will be played May 10-13 in Evansville, Ind.

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