2014 FMCC Baseball, Softball Preview

JOHNSTOWN – Pay no mind to the quick burst of Antarctic weather that blew through the area this week – the middle of March means the beginning of baseball season.

The Fulton-Montgomery Community College Raiders baseball team and Lady Raiders softball team have begun preparations for the 2014 season.

While the Lady Raiders have some time before their season-opening series against Herkimer Community College, the men are in Maryland today for two double-headers in three days against Division II Cecil College.

The baseball team will be looking to rebound from a 10-33 campaign in 2013 under second-year head coach Dave Hennessey. Hennessey joined the Raiders last season after putting together a .640 winning percentage in six seasons with Hudson Valley Community College.

The biggest hurdle FMCC will have to climb over is the loss of lanky 6’5” lefty hurler Matt Snyder. Snyder dominated on the mound for FMCC last spring before putting together a remarkable summer season with the Amsterdam Mohawks. Snyder struck out 53 batters on his way to registering a perfect 7-0 record and a 1.17 ERA with Amsterdam. Snyder’s all-star performance drew the attention of one of college’s biggest programs.

“He’s now at the University of Kentucky and that speaks for itself,” Hennessey said. “I look at where he was when he came in, where he was at the end of our season, then moving on to play with the Mohawks, and I think he matured an awful lot. I think that was one of the things he made a conscientious effort to improve. We knew he could throw the ball, that’s for sure.”

Hennessey is excited about his recruiting class this season after missing out on the recruiting process in 2013. The Raiders landed a bevy of No. 1 players from local schools, including Chris Rockefeller, Joe Nellis and Anthony Visco. Rockefeller, a 6’3” pitcher and outfielder out of Gloversville High School, joins sophomore Gloversville alumni Gregory Mosetti and Alex Vickery. Nellis is a southpaw pitching product from Johnstown who will be accompanied by former Sir Bills Jason Roth and Matt Hecht. Visco is a utility man and played his high school ball at Broadalbin-Perth.

One newcomer with a chance to take over Snyder’s ace role is Christian Maldonado from Troy High School. Maldonado pitched a perfect game with 20 strikeouts during his senior season with the Flying Horses and figures to be a big contributor in 2014 for an FMCC team that Hennessey says will rely on its pitching.

“I think we had a pretty good recruiting class,” Hennessey said. “Basically, we stayed local, and that’s what we’re trying to do with the team.”

While Hennessey admits that his freshmen will be relied upon heavily this year, Greg Ruddy is a returning player who is looking to make an impact as the team’s starting shortstop.

“He was a guy that was going to go to Hudson Valley with me and when I was hired here he took a leap of faith and came with me,” Hennessey said. “I expect him to have a huge year for us.”

On the girls’ side, Meghan Power is set to begin her first year as the head coach of the Lady Raiders softball team. Power was an assistant coach for FMCC last season as the Lady Raiders struggled mightily to a winless season.

After as disappointing a season as a team can endure, Power’s philosophy heading into 2014 is simple.

“We want to continue to improve every day, score runs, get outs, and win softball games,” Power said.

A pair of players expected to provide a major punch this season are returning catcher Alix Leo and pitcher Brittany Keator. Fellow alumnus Alyssa Palmateer will join Leo, who played at Johnstown High School, this season.

Gloversville graduate Ally Ostrander is on the roster as a sophomore outfielder, while other local players include Amsterdam’s Taylor Bubniak and Fonda-Fultonville’s Courtney Putnam.

Freshmen Stephanie Rice, Cori Manson and Rebekah Reichard are expected to see major playing time in the field for the Lady Raiders. Rice is one of three girls from FMCC’s women’s basketball team that are making their way outdoors this spring. Erica and Evanda Redwood, who will fill utility roles, will join her.

The Lady Raiders will play a doubleheader at Herkimer on March 25 to open their spring slate.