Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

The Baseball Club had the opportunity to shag balls for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays during the team’s batting practice last week.

The students were in Florida for the National Club Baseball Association’s Spring Showcase, where they competed against teams from Indiana, Minnesota State, West Virginia, and Miami of Ohio.

Before leaving for the trip, coach Chip Nataro, assistant professor of chemistry, sent a letter to Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon ’76. They arranged for the club to participate in the team’s batting practice and meet some of the professional players, including pitchers Scott Kazmir, Chad Orvella, and Doug Waechter, infielder B.J. Upton, and catcher Mike Rose. Maddon also took some time to talk with team members. The Lafayette players all received hats and shirts from the Devil Rays.

“Joe was great. He really loved his time at Lafayette,” says Nataro. “It was evident the moment we met him. He was so excited to have us there, and we could only do it because of him. He essentially told [the students] baseball is a strange sport: In baseball, getting a 30 percent [success rate in batting] is considered good, whereas in college [academics], that usually won’t cut it — so remember that and go out and have fun. He challenged my guys to not let any balls hit the grass. Joe was amazing. We’re so thankful for his generosity.”

The players were impressed with the team’s willingness to interact with them and take time to include them in practice.

“Mr. Maddon was extremely friendly and made everyone feel relaxed,” says second baseman Christian Garelli ’09 (Pasadena, Calif.). “You could see his personality rub off on his players because they were all extremely personable and friendly. They all came over and talked to us about baseball and made us feel like one of the guys. It was a good experience because he is another alumnus who had a great time here, and having people speak so fondly of Lafayette is good to hear.”

Lafayette went 2-2 during the showcase, defeating West Virginia and Minnesota State. First baseman Joe Branosky ’09 (Woodbury, N.J.), a Marquis Scholar, was named New Penn East Conference Player of the Week; Dan Olivi ’08 (New Freedom, Pa.) was named Pitcher of the Week.

“Getting to play competitive games before our actual conference schedule should be a huge benefit,” says Nataro. “We played some excellent teams down there and we know we can compete with them.”

Club presidentand third baseman Dan Weaver ’07 (Cogan Station, Pa.), a civil engineering major, believes the team has improved this year and is capable of winning the league, which includes New York University, Rutgers University, and Lehigh University.

“We gained a lot of confidence from the trip,” he says. “In past years, we went into the season looking forward to three wins at best. After seeing how well we played in Tampa, the team is looking for at least ten wins this year and winning the league.”

Baseball Club opens its spring season today versus Lehigh.

Maddon was named the Devil Rays manager last year. According to the Devil Rays, Maddon will focus on improving pitching and defense, two components the new manager feels should help the team win more games. In addition, unlike many teams that only focus on fundamentals during spring training, Maddon says he will make that a priority throughout the season. He previously worked with the California Angels and several minor league teams.

Categorized in: Students