2020 Conference Wrap: NortheastAnalysis
It’s still hard to believe the 2020 college baseball season is over after just four weeks of play. Most conferences didn’t even reach league play before the coronavirus halted the season, so it would be pointless to give out any legitimate awards or draw any sweeping conclusions from our meager sample size. With that in mind, we won’t be releasing a 2020 All-America team, or naming a national Player of the Year or Freshman of the Year.
But informally, we can still take a look back at those first four weeks and highlight some players who stood out. Keep in mind that nonconference strength of schedules varies dramatically, and four weeks really isn’t a long enough period to even determine how strong a given schedule truly was. With those caveats out of the way, here are some superlative picks for the Northeast Conference, which played four weeks of nonconference action and never started league play.
Here are the superlative categories:
- Best Team
- Most Surprising Team
- Most Impressive Hitter
- Most Impressive Pitcher
- Best Senior
- Best Freshman
- More Fab Freshmen
- Breakout Player
- Breakout Pitcher
The early season nonconference schedule is often tough on the Northeast Conference as teams have to play most, if not all, of their games on the road. Teams often take pay games from some high-profile teams in warmer southern climates to be able to play while also supplementing budgets. No NEC school finished with a winning record in this coronavirus-canceled short season, but surprisingly it was Merrimack that produced the league’s best resumé.
The Warriors made the jump up from Division II without a hiccup, opening the season with a four-game series split on the road at Oral Roberts, the favorite to win the Summit League. They followed that up with a neutral site four-game series against Michigan State. Merrimack fell an extra-inning run shy of sweeping the Big Ten Spartans. It started the season 6-3 before dropping its final six games, but Nick Barese’s squad showed they are ready to compete immediately in the NEC.
While the Warriors’ team numbers aren’t great, they had a handful of players that were putting up outstanding stats. Senior Nick Shumski led the conference with a .443 average and was tied for an NEC best with 12 RBIs. Kurtis Stadnicki was hitting .302 and also had double-digit RBIs.
Merrimack also had some of the conference’s best bullpen arms. Daniel Amidon (0-1, 0.87) had struck out 18 and allowed only six hits in 10.1 innings. Jake Thibault (1-2, 1.59, 1 SV) had already made seven appearances and thrown 17 innings. Freshman Justin Butera (0-0, 2.03, 2 SV) was averaging 3.1 innings per outing in four appearances. Opponents were hitting just .143 against sophomore closer LT Pare (0-0, 1.93, 3 SV).
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