LakePoint, Ga. - We are just two days away from first pitch of the 2018 ASUN Baseball season. Today we feature the last installment of the 2018 ASUN Baseball Preview series, which highlights preseason favorite, the Stetson Hatters.
The Hatters finished below .500 last season with a record of 27-29, but tore through the ASUN portion of their schedule with a record of 15-6. The expectations are even higher this season as Stetson brings back almost everyone, headlined by a dynamite pitching staff of All-American Logan Gilbert, Jack Perkins and Brooks Wilson. In 2017, the Hatters pitching staff set a program-record for strikeouts with 538. Stetson also ranked fifth nationally in K/9 with 9.7. Gilbert anchors the staff, as he went 10-0 last season helping him garner ASUN Pitcher of the Year honors. Aside from his 10-0 record, he struck out 107 batters in just 89 innings. While Gilbert gets most of the accolades, Perkins and Wilson are no slouches. Perkins' 7-5 record from a year ago may be a bit deceiving, as she posted an ERA of 2.71 ERA with 108 strikeouts over 99.2 innings. Wilson led the team in strikeouts with 127, while posting an ERA of 3.01.
Stetson's offense is anchored by senior centerfielder Jacob Koos. Koos sets the table at the top of the Hatter lineup. Last season he led the team in BA, hits, OBP, BB and runs. He also was second in the ASUN in stolen bases with 23. He was fan-voted Preseason Player of the Year. Austin Hale was tabbed as preseason ASUN Defensive Player of the Year. He threw out 19 base runners last year, which ranked second in the country. Offensively, Hale his .266 last season with five homers and 25 RBIs and also led the team with 20 extra basehits. He was also second on the team in slugging percentage with .440. The Hatters also bring back their two big bats in the middle of the order in Mike Spooner and Jack Gonzalez. Spooner led the team in RBIs last season, knocking in 43. Spooner also hit .303 with an OBP of .380 and was second on the team in runs scored with 40. Gonzalez enjoyed a breakout year in 2017. He hit .298, with a team-leading six homers, 28 RBIs, eight doubles, 21 walks and an OBP of .371. Gonzalez led the Hatters in slugging, as he slugged .453.
Stetson Team Quick Facts
2017 Record: 27-29 (15-6)
Best Single-Season Record in A-Sun: 48-16; (20-7) - 2000
ASUN Championships: 1988-90, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2016
ASUN Regular Season Titles: 1989, 1991-93, 1996, 2007, 2011
NCAA Appearances: 18 (1988-90, 1992, 1996-97, 2000-03, 2005-07, 2011, 2016)
2018 Season Notes: Stetson finished last season with 58 stolen bases, the second-highest total in the ASUN. On the mound, Logan Gilbert looks to continue his brilliant form in 2018 as the Hatters pitching staff looks to be a strength for the team this season.
Season Opener: vs. Manhattan; 2/16/18 - 6:30 PM
ASUN Opener: at Kennesaw State; 4/6/18 - 6 PM
ASUN Home Opener: vs. Lipscomb; 4/13/18 - 6:30 PM
Head Coach: Steve Trimper
Career Record (Years): 488-460-4 (19th season)
Stetson Record (Years): 27-29 (2nd season)
Staff: Dave Therneau, Joe Mercadante, Brandon Brewer, Tommy Vickers, Spencer Phillips
- Austin Hale, Jr., C: Hale enters 2018 as the preseason selection for ASUN Defensive Player of the Year. A year ago he threw out 19 would-be base stealers, which was good enough for second in the ASUN. Hale also helped guide a pitching staff that posted some historic numbers a year ago. Last season Stetson pitchers struck out a school-record 538 batters. At the plate, Hale led the Hatters in extra base hits with 20. He was also second on the team in slugging percentage at .440
- Jack Gonzalez, Jr., 1B/DH: After only seeing action in one game in 2016, Gonzalez enjoyed a breakout season in 2017. The left-handed hitting first basemen hit .298 with six homers, 28 RBIs, eight doubles and 21 walks. Gonzalez also slugged at a .453 clip, which led the team, and had an on-base percentage of .371. Gonzalez was selected to the 2018 Preseason All-Conference squad. Look for him to make an even bigger jump heading into his junior season.
- Jacob Koos, Jr., OF: Koos was one of two players to start in all 56 games for the Hatters in 2017. He was the table setter at the top of the Stetson batting order a year ago. Koos led the team in BA (.317), hits (73), OBP (.401), BB (32) and runs scored (50). He also led the team and finished second in the conference in stolen bases with 23. Koos was fan-voted Preseason ASUN Player of the Year.
Top Returning Pitchers
- Logan Gilbert, Jr., RHP: After posting a spectacular sophomore campaign and dominating in the Cape Cod League in 2017, Gilbert has found himself on many Preseason All-American lists and atop many MLB draft boards. Last season Gilbert went a perfect 10-0 with a 2.02 ERA and was even better in ASUN action with an eye-popping ERA of 0.94. He struck out a career-high 107 batters in just 89.0 innings of work. Gilbert was selected Preseason ASUN Pitcher of the Year. He was also named one of 55 players to the Golden Spikes Award Watch List.
- Jack Perkins, Jr., RHP: Last season Perkins helped make up a third of what was a three-headed monster of a pitching staff. The righty went 7-5 with a 2.71 ERA in 99.2 innings of work. He also struck out 108 batters (second on the team), while only walking 30. Perkins will be one of four captains for the Hatters for the 2018 season.
- Brooks Wilson, Sr., RHP: Wilson led the Stetson staff with 127 strikeouts, which is the third most nationally among returners. The righty also did a good job of limiting walks, as he only gave up 38 free passes in 454 batters faced. Wilson ranks eighth in Stetson history in strikeouts with 241, which is just 121 behind the program record and 126 behind the ASUN record.
- Baylen Sparks, Jr. 1B/3B: Sparks is slated to start at first base and bat third for the Hatters. Last season at Palm Beach State College, Sparks was named conference player of the year after hitting .392 in 52 games with 17 doubles, two homers and 39 RBIs. Sparks was also a perfect 20-20 in stolen bases.