SFA Baseball 2013 Preview: Catchers
Feb. 5, 2013
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks were just one win away from its second consecutive Southland Conference Tournament championship game a year ago, and this year with four preseason all-conference selections on board, another successful season seems to be in line for the `Jacks.
This is the first in a five-part series previewing the Lumberjacks, position-by-position, leading up to the 2013 opener at South Alabama on February 15 in Mobile.
Entering into each of the last three seasons there was no question who would be handling duties behind the plate for the Lumberjacks, but the graduation of all-conference backstop Jarid Scarafiotti leaves SFA with a hole behind the plate; however, head coach Johnny Cardenas has a variety of options to turn to this season, and knows that this group of catchers has more than what it takes to get the job done for the `Jacks.
SFA will have three options to turn to behind the plate, but only one - redshirt freshman Joseph Olson - enters the season with any experience at the Division I level, and even that is at a minimum. As a true freshman last year Olson got into three games, making a pair of starts before suffering a concussion in SFA's early-season win over Grambling that managed to keep him out for the remainder of the season.
He got just eight at-bats in 2012, but according to Cardenas has worked hard to get back to form and the head coach is confident he has the tools to pick up where he left off last season.
"We had some high expectations for Joe last season, but unfortunately he got bit by the injury bug awfully early and missed basically the entire season," Cardenas said. "Still, that year might have ended up doing him some good. Of course we would have loved for him to play, but he still was able to take a lot from being on the sideline and watching a guy like Jarid (Scarafiotti) handle things the way he did."
Olson will likely share time with another redshirt who missed all of last year with injury, junior Zach Marberry, who was a teammate of SFA starting pitcher Chase Greening at both Lufkin High School and Angelina College before coming to Nacogdoches. He brought a 6-4, 200-pound frame to SFA last year but suffered a knee injury in fall camp that forced him out for the entire 2012 campaign.
"We are very excited to have Zach back out there and healthy, and we really feel like he could make a big difference for us this year," Cardenas said. "He already has a lot of familiarity with our pitchers, especially Chase (Greening), and he's got one of the strongest arms from behind the plate that we've had in my time at SFA."
SFA will also have a solid third option in junior college transfer Jordan Camel who comes to the `Jacks after two seasons at Alvin Community College. A switch-hitting bat, Camel hit .341 and drove in 28 runs for the Dolphins a year ago and was a first-team all-district choice at the 5A level during his high school days at Travis High School in the Houston area.
"At this level you can never have enough depth at any position, and we really saw that last year with our catching situation. Jordan gives us another way to turn, and is a very solid option at that," Cardenas said. "Not only does he give us a third catcher, but as a switch hitter it automatically gives us a more versatile bench."
2013 Season Preview Schedule: