Senior Ben Thomas set the all-time career record for homers at Xavier in 2011.
June 3, 2011
CINCINNATI -- With the 2011 baseball season officially in the books, Xavier head coach Scott Googins has had time to reflect on what was, by all accounts, another successful season for the Musketeers.
"I think it was a great year," said Googins. "Obviously I'm disappointed with the way it ended but I'm very proud of our team. I thought we had great team chemistry and I don't think we underachieved but we didn't accomplish some of our goals. Overall though, it was a good season."
The Musketeers had much to be proud of in 2011. XU marked its fifth-straight 20-win season and its second 30-win season in three years with a 30-27 record in 2011. The Musketeers also made their sixth-straight appearance in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Senior first baseman Ben Thomas blasted 15 home runs in 2011 which put him in first place all-time at Xavier in homers (44). Fellow senior John McCambridge set the single-season record for hits (86) and moved into second place all-time in career hits with 256. Their performances earned Thomas an Atlantic 10 Player of the Year nod and a First-Team All-Conference honor for both student-athletes.
"I don't know if you're going to be able to replace any of those guys, but it's going to open up opportunities for the young guys," said Googins. "The seniors came in when the program started turning around. They have their fingerprints all over the record books but more importantly they're the kind of guys who do it on the field and the classroom. It's always emotional at the end of the season because you're not going to have that group of guys anymore."
Xavier also saw great contributions from its underclassmen. Freshmen, second baseman Selby Chidemo and right fielder Brian Bruening, earned their way into the XU starting lineup. Sophomore Seth Willoughby contributed well by posting a career-high five home runs and set a third-best XU season mark with nine saves.
Willoughby earned success in the classroom as well, as he joined McCambridge on the Atlantic 10 Academic All-Conference team.
Sophomore starting pitcher Jon Richard and redshirt freshman starter Vinny Nittoli also provided solid performances in 2011. Richard went 5-5 with a 3.76 ERA while Nittoli earned a 7-1 record with a 3.75 ERA.
Because of their outstanding freshman seasons, Bruening and Nittoli both earned a spot on the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team.
"I think getting experience will really help our young guys next season," said Googins. "Getting to see what it takes to win at this level will hopefully make them hungrier this fall. It was also good for them to watch our seniors, who were great role models for them."
Early in the season, XU tied a school record with nine-straight wins including taking two-of-three against nationally ranked Louisville.
"Early on we had some great success in the non-conference schedule, which we hadn't had in the past," said Googins. "The Fordham game at the end of the regular season was a game to remember. I didn't think that it would go 14 innings though, and taking two out of three at Louisville was big for us as well."
With such a young class returning for 2012, Googins is interested to see what next season will bring.
"It should be an interesting fall for us," said Googins. "There are a lot of open slots and we'll have a lot of competition to fill them.