Top seniors hope to leave final marks
It’s not often ultra-talented players return to college for their senior seasons. Instead, those players usually sign professional contracts following their junior campaigns.
As the 2011 season nears, there are 10 seniors that stand above the rest.
Texas pitcher Cole Green, who turned down significant money to return to college, leads the list of returning seniors, while Florida State two-way star Mike McGee isn’t far behind.
Fresno State is ecstatic to have power hitter Jordan Ribera back for another season, while the return of starting pitcher Steven Maxwell gives TCU a trio of experienced, solid starters.
These seniors and more hope to leave a final mark on their respective programs.
Cole Green, Texas
The Longhorns received a shot in the arm at the end of last summer when the right-handed pitcher turned down over $300,000 and returned to Austin, Texas, for his senior season. Green’s return is huge for the Longhorns, giving them a fantastic one-two punch with junior righty Taylor Jungmann. Green went 11-2 with a 2.74 ERA in 111 2/3 innings last season. He also struck out 75 and walked 27 and limited teams to a .218 average.
Mike McGee, Florida State
When the Seminoles lost versatile outfielder Tyler Holt in the days leading up to the MLB draft deadline, keeping McGee on campus became the top priority. Fortunately, the ‘Noles have McGee back for his senior season. His presence is welcomed. McGee is a huge boost both offensively and on the mound. He batted .328 with 17 homers and 73 RBIs last season, while also tallying an impressive .438 on-base percentage. On the mound, McGee earned 13 saves and compiled a 2.96 ERA in 20 appearances.
Jordan Ribera, Fresno State
The Bulldogs couldn’t be happier to have the power hitter back this season. Ribera earned many accolades last season for his impressive power production. He hopes to build off that campaign this season. Ribera batted .343 with 20 doubles, two triples, 27 homers and 69 RBIs last season. He also slugged .761 and had a respectable .406 on-base percentage. Ribera gives Fresno State a hitter to build its offense around.
Todd McInnis, Southern Mississippi
The Golden Eagles got a double boost at the end of the last summer when McInnis and reliever Collin Cargill decided to return for their senior seasons. McInnis is particularly important because he gives the Eagles a front-line ace to begin each series. McInnis has had a solid career and is coming off a season where he went 6-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 95 1/3 innings. He also struck out 87 and walked 34 and limited teams to a .234 average.
Steven Maxwell, TCU
The Horned Frogs will have one of the nation’s best weekend rotations with Matt Purke, Kyle Winkler and Maxwell, the senior, leading the way. The right-hander actually finished last season with the best earned-run average of the Frogs’ starters. He started 18 games, went 11-2 and had a 2.70 ERA in 103 1/3 innings. He also struck out 93 and walked 34 and limited teams to a .239 average. Maxwell finished last season on a negative note and hopes to avenge himself this season.
Jeff Schaus, Clemson
The Tigers will have a solid offensive lineup with Brad Miller and John Hinson leading the way, but getting Schaus back this season is icing on the cake. Schaus could be more consistent, but there’s no doubting he is one of the ACC’s elite power hitters. Schaus finished last season hitting .320 with 14 doubles, two triples, 15 homers and 87 RBIs. He also slugged .542 and had a .397 on-base percentage. He’s expected to have a huge year.
Paul Hoilman, East Tennessee State
You might not hear Hoilman’s name too often throughout the season because of where he plays, but he’s clearly one of the nation’s elite hitters. Hoilman tallied amazing numbers as a junior last season, hitting .421 with 24 doubles, two triples, 25 homers and 84 RBIs. He also slugged an amazing .860 and had a fantastic .526 on-base percentage. It’ll be tough for him to beat those numbers as a senior, but anything is possible.
Mike Nemeth, Connecticut
Not many programs get the luxury of returning their leading hitter for his senior season, but the Huskies are the exception. The Huskies already were expected to have a good offense, but Nemeth returning this season is a big boost. Nemeth had a sensational junior campaign, hitting .386 with 20 doubles, a triple, 15 homers and 84 RBIs. He also slugged .650 and had a .470 on-base percentage.
Chad Oberacker, Tennessee Tech
Oberacker surprised many last summer when he decided to turn down overtures from the St. Louis Cardinals to return to college for his senior season. Oberacker and TTU only hope he can somehow improve on last season’s amazing numbers. Oberacker batted a team-high .452 with 29 doubles, five triples, six homers and 70 RBIs. He also slugged .690 and had a .527 on-base percentage. Additionally, he was 14-for-18 in stolen bases.
Adam Bryant, Troy
The Trojans hope to find their way to the NCAA postseason with Bryant back for his senior season. There aren’t many more complete players around the country than the talented infielder. Bryant batted .356 with 16 doubles, six triples, 23 homers and 65 RBIs last season. He also slugged .744 and had a .431 on-base percentage. Also impressive, Bryant finished last season with a .990 fielding percentage.