DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke baseball team opened its official practice period on Friday, Jan. 28, signaling the beginning of the 2011 college baseball season. Blue Devil head coach Sean McNally, in his sixth year as the manager of his alma mater, guided his squad through batting practice, base running and fielding drills.
Duke returns five position starters and seven pitchers, including ACC Freshman of the Year Marcus Stroman. Stroman, a shortstop and pitcher who enters his sophomore season as Duke’s top arm and a starting infielder, is part of a Duke team that has posted four consecutive winning seasons.
Stroman, who was also named Freshman All-America second team by Baseball America, rejoins a lineup that includes center fielder Will Piwnica-Worms, utility infielder and pitcher Dennis O’Grady and outfielders Brian Litwin and Joe Pedevillano. Piwnica-Worms is Duke’s top returning hitter with a career .315 batting average and is Duke’s active leader in hits, runs, doubles, home runs, RBI and stolen bases.
Stroman is also part of a veteran pitching staff that includes O’Grady and juniors Eric Pfisterer and Ben Grisz. Duke also returns 6-foot-6 sophomore right-hander Chase Bebout who earned three ACC starts as a freshman.
Duke baseball has enjoyed a tremendous turnaround under McNally, who is the first coach in school history to post four winning seasons within his first five years. McNally and fifth-year pitching Sean Snedeker make up the core of the Duke coaching staff, which was bolstered for 2011 with the addition of assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Edwin Thompson and volunteer assistant coach Ryan McCurdy, who was a four-year starter at Duke from 2007-10.