West Chester University’s baseball team had a successful campaign in 2009, now they look to build on last year’s success. However, they will have to do so with a new head coach and without co-captain and the PSAC’s 2009 player of the year Matt Cottellese.In 2009, the WCU Golden Rams finished their season with a school record of 46 victories. WCU only lost 12 games in the regular season. They blew the PSAC away with a record of 21-3 against conference opponents. At Serpico Stadium located on the south campus of WCU the Golden Rams were downright stingy accumulating a record of 17-3 at home.
Last year WCU won the PSAC Baseball Championship which earned them a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Rams reached the NCAA Division II national finals for the second time in the last four years. West Chester’s senior class posted a school-record 163-65 (.715) mark over its four-year stint, the most in any four-year span in school history.
Outfielder Matt Cotellese finished his college career with 304 hits (.373 career BA), 202 runs scored and 200 RBI. All three are both PSAC and WCU records. Cotellese is the first PSAC player to eclipse 300 hits, 200 runs and 200 RBI’s in a career. Cotellese was named ABCA first team All-America that was announced at the College World Series, he was also a first team pick in 2008. Nick Spisak set a PSAC single-season record with 71 runs scored.
West Chester ended its season with two straight losses in the Division II national finals to UC San Diego at the U.S. Baseball Training Complex in Carey, North Carolina. Junior co-captain, Nick Spisak believes the group returning in 2010 forms a nucleus that will have the Golden Rams back in the College World Series.
“The biggest thing to keep in mind is to learn from each group that comes through,” Spisak said. “The freshmen have to step into new roles and the guys who have been around have to step up and fill the shoes of the seniors. The program is a building block every season. I believe guys will take on new roles, and we will be right back here in this position again next year.”
After the conclusion of the 2009 season head coach Greg Mamula was offered and accepted a position as assistant coach at the University of Cincinnati. West Chester University director of athletics, Dr. Edward Matejkovic, announced the hiring of Mark Jackson as the head coach for the nationally ranked Golden Rams baseball program.
Jackson comes to West Chester University from nearby Philadelphia University where he spent the previous six months. He brings over 20 years of head coaching experience to West Chester University on a resume that includes two Big East conference titles while head coach at the University of Pittsburgh.
“The West Chester University baseball program has proven itself to be one of the top NCAA Division II teams in the nation in recent years, and it is a privilege for me to be a part of that type of program,” Jackson said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to coach a talented team that has reached such an elite status.”
The Lower Merion Township native holds a career coaching record of 658-280-7. He has an undergraduate degree from Penn State University and a master’s degree from Temple University. He most recently coached at Texas A&M International University, where he directed a first-year NCAA Division II baseball team to a 32-18 record.
“Mark’s proven track record at all levels and his ability to produce conference champions was very attractive in our search for a head coach,” Matejkovic stated. “We needed to find somebody who could maintain the program’s high level of success and keep it going in the right direction.”
Previously, Jackson served as an assistant coach at Division I Duquesne University for three years, where he helped the Dukes to their first Atlantic 10 Conference baseball playoff appearance. He spent seven years at the University of Pittsburgh, where his team staged a dramatic turnaround under his tutelage, going from last place in the Big East three years prior to his arrival to winning both a Big East regular-season championship (’94) and a Big East Tournament championship (’95).
As an NAIA coach, Jackson spent 12 years at Point Park University outside Pittsburgh, Pa, where he took his teams to five World Series, a third-place national finish and a record of 443-119-3 overall (good for a .796 winning percentage). His Point Park teams were consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally.
The PSAC preseason polls for the upcoming season have WCU ranked second behind rival Kutztown University. Kutztown edged out West Chester for the top spot in the East by just one point, as the Golden Rams also garnered three first place votes.
The Golden Rams are the defending PSAC Tournament champions and also won the Eastern Division a year ago while advancing to the NCAA Division II College World Series by winning the Atlantic Regional. West Chester was followed by Shippensburg, East Stroudsburg, Millersville, Mansfield and Bloomsburg in the East. Mansfield received the other first place votes.
Mark Jackson’s Golden Rams open up their season in Hickory, North Carolina. After playing three games against Lenoir-Rhynne, WCU will head down to Florence, South Carolina for a three game set with Francis Marion. WCU will return home to Serpico Stadium for their season opener on March 3rd against Franklin and Marshall starting at 2:30 p.m.
Steven Fisher is a third-year student majoring in communications with a minor in Journalism. He can be reached at SF674180@wcupa.edu.