JUCO programs across the state of Maryland are eager to get back on the field after their seasons were cut short by Covid-19 in 2020. As the calendar quickly turns and teams begin to ramp up for their seasons to begin in early March, we begin our coverage of the Maryland JUCO Conference with a preseason preview of all fourteen schools. In each preview, we will take a look back at the shortened 2020 season, examine key players that return and those that have moved on or left the program, look at new faces, and finally take a sneak peek at what's ahead for the 2021 season. Today we begin our preseason previews with a look at the Frederick CC Cougars.
FREDERICK CC 2021 SEASON PREVIEW
Head Coach: Rodney Bennett (19th Season)
2020 Record: 13-5
2020 MD JUCO Finish: N/A
2020 DII Region XX Finish: N/A
2020 DII Northeast District: N/A
Twitter Handle: @CougarPrideFCC
CLICK HERE to view the FCC Baseball Website
CLICK HERE to view the FCC 2021 Baseball Schedule
CLICK HERE to view the FCC 2021 Baseball Roster
Returning Starters: 4
Returning Pitchers: 8
2020 Cougars Moving On
*List of players from last year's team that are playing at 4-year schools this season.
Jacob Berry (Tennessee Wesleyan University)
Andrew Camacho (UMASS Dartmouth)
Max Cannon (Immaculata University)
Connor Hanafin (Mansfield University)
Kyle Hoeth (UVA Wise)
Priamo Lozada (Morehead State University)
Kyle Schofield (Christopher Newport University)
Brett Stallings (George Mason University)
Jacob Wetzel (Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago Cubs)
Kevon Wharton (Virginia State University)
Klay Cottis (Fr.) OF Indian Creek (OH)
Wyatt Miles (Fr.) INF Woodgrove (VA)
Brevin Neveker (Fr.) OF New Oxford (PA)
Riley Warren (Fr.) RHP Westminster (MD)
Matt Michel (Transfer) RHP from East Stroudsburg University
Lane Gay (Transfer) C from Palm Beach Atlantic University
2021 Season Snapshot
As true across much of the JUCO landscape, Frederick returns a very experienced squad in 2021 under 19th-year head coach Rodney Bennett. Last year's team looked poised to contend for not only the Maryland JUCO Conference title but also a Region XX championship and NJCAA DII World Series berth. Expect much of the same this year even with ten players having moved on to four-year schools as Coach Bennett and his staff continue to attract some of the best talents across the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Two seasons ago, the Cougars were one win away from punching their ticket to the NJCAA DII World Series falling two games to one in the best-of-three Northeast District Championship Series against Region XIX champion Lackawanna CC (PA). Replacing Jacob Berry (Tennessee Wesleyan University), Priamo Lozada (Morehead State University), Brett Stallings (George Mason University), and Jacob Wetzel (Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago Cubs) amongst others won't be an easy task but the Cougars do return three starters from last year's everyday lineup and a slue of arms on the bump.
Look for Justin Acal, Nicco German, and Brodey Neveker to lock down the infield and lead the offensive attack along with returning catcher Spencer Rhoads, top newcomers Klay Cottis, Wyatt Miles, Brevin Neveker, and transfer Lane Gay adding depth to the lineup. Frederick also looks to be very strong on the mound with eight returners headlined by the 2019 Maryland JUCO All-Conference First Team and NJCAA D2 All-Region XX - First Team selection AJ Cieslinski. Cieslinski appeared in 13 games for the Cougars in 2019 going 8-1 with a save. Lefty Nick Karlinchak (15 APP in 2019 with a 6-2 record, and a 3.05 ERA in 41.1 IP), righty Max Proctor (19 APP in 2019 with a 1-1 record, one save, and a 3.94 ERA in 32 IP), and righty Brodey Neveker (10 APP in 2019 with a 3-1 record and a 4.32 ERA in 25 IP) figure to also play key roles on the mound alongside fellow returners Aidan Baadte, Ryan Berry, John Cummings, David Gingras, Riley Grant, key freshman Riley Warren, and transfer Matthew Michel.
Bennett's teams have won at least 30 games in each of the last 14 years prior to last year's incomplete season and look poised to push that streak to 15 in 2021. Expectations will be high once again for this year's squad but Coach Bennett is accustomed to that as his teams are perennially considered as one of the favorites to win the Maryland JUCO Conference and NJCAA D2 Region XX Tournament. Frederick won't travel to Florida this year to open up the season as they have done traditionally in the past, due to travel restrictions imposed upon them from the college. Rather, Coach Bennett and the 2021 Cougars will jump right into Maryland JUCO Conference play on February 9th at home against Allegany College of Maryland and weave its way through seven of the fourteen Maryland JUCO programs throughout the remainder of the month.