Experienced Griffs enter season with high expectations
By: Jay Ashdown
When the Griffs take the diamond this season, they’ll do so with sky-high expectations. In the MAAC preseason coaches poll, Canisius was projected to finish third. The team possesses a very strong offense, but is very inexperienced on the mound. The Griffs’ consistent approach at the plate and their discipline will be what propels this team to wins this season.
“We have a lot of veterans on the offensive side,” head coach Matt Mazurek said. “There’s not many other teams in the conference who are as veteran as we are offensively.”
Monmouth was picked as the favorite of the conference, garnering seven first-place votes to close out with 114 points. Fairfield is right behind them with a total of 112 points and the remaining four first-place votes. While Canisius didn’t get any first-place votes, they’re still one of the most respected teams in the conference, and their strong trio is a major reason as to why they have gained so much respect.
Canisius was the only team in the conference to have three players named to the MAAC all-preseason team. Vinny Chiarenza, Max Grant and Carlin Dick were all given these honors due to their excellence on the field, and they will all carry large expectations into this upcoming season.
Chiarenza was named the top first baseman after batting .330 last season with a team-high nine home runs and 33 RBI. Grant batted a team-best .386 in 28 appearances last season, and he also drew 18 walks and struck out just 12 times. Dick batted .348 in his first collegiate season, while also posting an OPS north of 1.000 (1.047).
This three-headed monster gives Canisius skipper Matt Mazurek consistency, and they’re reliable in terms of giving him good at bats too, even when they don’t find their way on base.
“It’s great, and I think it’s really good when other people notice that,” Mazurek said of his trio being named to the MAAC all-preseason team. “They’re three of our hardest workers, they’re constantly here working. Whether it’s late in September or early in March, they’re consistent; they’re always present.”
Canisius will begin their season with a four game series in Florida against the Pittsburgh Panthers. The Panthers went 23–20 last season, with a record of 16–17 in conference play. The Panthers will provide an early interesting matchup for the Griffs, and being back in Florida for the first time since 2018 could do wonders for the Griffs, as it is an exciting time for players and coaches alike.
The Griffs will play one game on Friday at 12 p.m. and a double header on Saturday at noon and 3:30 p.m., followed by the series-closing game at noon on Sunday. The series will be played at Centennial Park in Port Charlotte, Fla.