Head coach Steve Sanfilippo has been building for the 2018 baseball season since he took over the MSOE baseball team over four years ago.
After inheriting a senior-laden squad in 2014, he has regularly fielded young and talented rosters. Now, he enters the first season with a squad of his own creation and his first freshman class from 2015 is now preparing for its senior season.
That senior class features five of the seven returning starters from the lineup and a pair of the team's starting pitchers.
Carrington repeated on the All-NACC First Team after batting .327 with seven home runs and 37 runs batted in. The starting right fielder reached base at a .403 clip and scored 37 runs. He's projected to break a number of school records as he's nearing 100 career runs (87), 200 hits (159), and 100 RBIs (93) with a .323 career batting average.
Burnikel had a breakout campaign last season, hitting .377 with nine home runs and 41 RBIs last season. He tied a school record for home runs in a season and is five home runs shy of tying the program's career mark. He appeared in 40 games at third base, scoring 38 runs, and also made two appearances on the mound, registering a save.
Another senior, Ryan Newman, also returns to roam the outfield after batting a career-high .359 with 56 hits in 37 games in centerfield. He had a career-highs in hits (56), runs (34), doubles (10), and RBIs (27). He also hit his first four home runs. He's a .316 career hitter and could also reach the century mark in runs scored with 84 entering the year.
Seniors Garrett Willems and Max Kemp also return after playing in starting roles last season. Willems earned all-league honorable mention honors by hitting .347 with four home runs and 29 RBIs over 37 games played. He also walked 14 times for a .431 on-base percentage. Kemp, meanwhile, worked his way into the starting lineup as a sophomore and had his best season at the plate in 2017. He hit .252 with 14 RBIs and reached base at a .358 clip.
A pair of juniors round out the returning starters from the lineup in middle infielders Nick Gross and Andres Oselio. Gross appeared in 39 games, primarily at second base, and hit .345 with three home runs and 29 RBIs. He knocked out 20 extra-base hits, reached base at a .408 rate, and slugged .518. Oselio emerged as the starter at shortstop and played in 37 games. He hit .270 with 19 runs batted in. He doubled five times, hit a home run, and posted a .340 on-base percentage.
The lineup also features depth in sophomore outfielder Joe Gilpin and a pair of catchers in junior Isaac Narimatsu and sophomore Ryan Kocher. Gilpin played in 13 games last season, making 10 starts, and hit .357 with six RBIs. He also reached base at a .471 on-base percentage. Narimatsu and Kocher saw limited time behind the plate with Narimatsu getting three starts among six appearances with three hits in 14 at-bats. Kocher also collected three hits over 13 games and nine starts.
Freshman Julian Sonn burst onto the scene with a strong season-opening trip to Florida last season, batting .357 with a .457 on-base percentage over 40 at-bats. He hit a pair of home runs and had 10 RBIs in 13 games (12 starts) before suffering a season-ending injury. He was given a medical hardship waiver and retained his freshman eligibility.
In addition to all of the firepower returning on offense, the Raiders will also benefit from some strong returners on the mound, as well.
Senior Michael Boehmer was the team's top pitcher last season, going 6-1 with a 3.84 and 55 strikeouts in 61.0 innings of work. He led the team with each of those figures and posted four complete games. Already the program's documented program leader with 143 career strikeouts, he could set several other pitching marks for MSOE.
Senior Brandon Rankila and junior Matt Mohapp are two more starters that thrived last season. Ranikla started seven games and pitched in 10 last season, going 1-3 with a save. He logged 42.0 innings of work with 34 strikeouts and a 4.29 ERA. Mohapp stood out with his eye-opening 10.06 strikeouts per nine innings after he racked up 41 strikeouts over 36.2 innings of work. He boasted a 3-3 record with a save and one shutout over 12 appearances and five starts.
Three arms headline the returners in the bullpen, led by junior Sam Crawford. The righthander has appeared in 31 games over his first two seasons, including a school-record 16 as a freshman. He started four games among his 15 appearances last season, going 2-3 with a save and a 4.29 ERA. He struck out 32 in 42.0 innings.
Sophomores Justin Celeski and Nathan Tremore combined for 25 appearances last season as rookies, earning high-leverage situations as the season went on. Celeski was 2-3 with a 5.51 ERA in 13 appearances, including one start, and tossed 32.2 innings. Tremore struck out 18 in 20.0 innings over 12 appearances, which included two starts, and had a 1-1 record.
Several players also return after adding depth last season and will look for more playing time this season after a strong preseason. Senior Trevor Symbal appeared in nine games, throwing 5.1 innings in three pitching appearances and had nine at-bats with three runs scored. Senior Nathan Sliefert, meanwhile, tossed 6.2 innings over seven pitching appearances.
Junior Kyle Davis had five at-bats and a pitching appearance among four games last season. Senior Jon Olson and sophomore Jaden Doornink also saw a little bit of action in their first seasons as a Raider. Olson played in six games with two runs scored and an RBI. Doornink made one appearance on the mound, covering 0.2 innings.