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NH College Notebook: UConn's Cross earns preseason baseball honor

Staff Report
January 04. 2014 9:00PM

UNIVERSITY of Connecticut redshirt junior tri-captain Carson Cross of Brentwood was named preseason American Athletic Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year, the league announced late last month. Cross was also named to the preseason all-conference team while the Huskies were tabbed to finish tied for second in the league in a vote of the conference's coaches.

Cross, a 2013 All-Big East second-team honoree, is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign. The righty made 16 starts for Connecticut, compiling a 9-4 record with a 2.44 ERA. In 110 2/3 innings of work, Cross compiled 86 strikeouts against just 24 walks, holding opponents to a .246 batting average. He finished second in the league in strikeouts and third in innings, and had big-time performances in UConn's postseason run.

The 6-foot, 5-inch hurler tossed nine innings of two-run ball against top-seeded Louisville in the Big East Tournament, then went 6 1/3 innings with just one run allowed against Virginia Tech in the NCAA Blacksburg Regional.

After the season, Cross was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 24th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft in June but elected to return to UConn for his redshirt junior season. Head coach Jim Penders awarded Cross with the 2013 James Allen Pitching Award at UConn's Alumni Game on Sept. 23.

UConn was projected to finish in second place in the AAC, tied with Houston and UCF behind projected league favorite Louisville. The Cardinals received eight of nine first-place votes, with the lone other going to Houston. This year will be UConn's first in the nine-team American Athletic Conference.

The Huskies went 35-29 last season, finishing eighth in the Big East with a 9-15 league record. UConn then went on a run to win the Big East Tournament and earn its third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years. After a 12-inning upset of top-seeded Louisville in the first round of the tournament, UConn defeated USF and Rutgers by one run apiece before dominating Notre Dame, 8-1, in the tournament final. The Huskies then went on to the NCAA Blacksburg Regional, winning their first game against host Virginia Tech but then dropping a 12-inning affair to Oklahoma before being eliminated by Virginia Tech.

Cross, Penders and the Huskies open the 2014 campaign at the Port Charlotte Tournament from Feb. 14-16. UConn will visit Port Charlotte, Fla., where it will take on Ohio State, Indiana State and Auburn.

FPU, SNHU ranked

Reigning NCAA Division II Baseball East Region champion Franklin Pierce University is ranked ninth in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper national preseason poll, while Northeast-10 Conference rival Southern New Hampshire University is No. 27.

The preseason poll was announced by the organization the day after Christmas.

Franklin Pierce (37-19 last season) won its sixth NCAA regional title in 11 years last spring to advance to the Division II College World Series in Cary, N.C. The Ravens then had four players drafted in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft in June.

SNHU (35-19), which has become a regional mainstay in recent years, has hosted the NCAA East Regional each of the past two seasons. Three Penmen were among the 11 Northeast-10 players selected in the MLB Draft last summer.

Pyne moves to Maine

J.P. Pyne is taking his baseball glove and cleats north to Orono, Maine. The Daniel Webster College head baseball coach since June of 2007 and former boss at St. Anselm has been named a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Maine.

A three-time New England Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year, Pyne led Daniel Webster to the 2010, 2012 and 2013 NECC regular-season and tournament championships. The squad appeared in the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons, winning its first NCAA tournament game in 2013.

The Eagles finished 29-12 last spring and were knocked out of the NCAA New England Regional, 3-1, by a Wheaton team featuring standout shortstop Eric Jensen of Gorham..

"(J.P.'s) coaching track record speaks for itself, with multiple successful seasons at St. Anselm and Daniel Webster College," said Maine coach Steve Trimper in a release. "Being able to add another top-quality coach, with head coaching experience, to our staff will benefit our student athletes and help us all in a quest for a conference championship and NCAA regional bid."

Prior to serving as head coach at Daniel Webster College, Pyne was the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at his alma mater, St. Joseph College in Standish, Maine.Pyne served as the head baseball coach at St. Anselm from June 2004 to July 2006. The team qualified for Northeast-10 Conference tournaments in consecutive seasons. Pyne was the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at St. Anselm before being named head coach.

Pyne also has worked with the Toronto Blue Jays as an interim pitching coach in the Gulf Coast League, served as a bullpen coach for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and coached the Keene Swamp Bats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League and the Nashua Silver Knights of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

A 2001 graduate of St. Joseph's, Pyne was a four-year letter-winner on the baseball team and captain in 2001.

DWC hoops on a roll

Former Dartmouth basketball coach Dave Faucher, now in his sixth season at Daniel Webster, has his team off to a fast start.

The Eagles took an 8-0 record into Saturday afternoon's game against New England College.

Sophomore guards Ryan Gauthier and Kevin Perez, both out of Nashua High School North, were putting up 13.5 and 12.4 points a game, respectively. Perez also was averaging 4.4 assists per contest.Ray Farmer, a freshman forward out of Nashua High School South, was averaging 12 points and 7.8 rebounds a game. Senior forward Daris Crosby was scoring 16.7 points a game.

O'Leary's success legit

Slightly more than 12 years after reporting by the New Hampshire Union Leader led to his resignation after just five days as head coach at Notre Dame, University of New Hampshire graduate George O'Leary directed the University of Central Florida to a 52-42 victory over Big 12 champion Baylor in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Wednesday night.

A former Georgia Tech head coach, O'Leary was hired by Notre Dame in late 2001, but in researching the coach's UNH background, the Union Leader discovered that he had lied on personnel forms about having been a football lettermen with the Wildcats. That led to further revelations about false claims of a master's degree, and O'Leary stepped down without ever coaching the Irish.

After two seasons as defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, O'Leary returned to the college ranks and head coaching when UCF hired him in 2004, and he's been there since, compiling a 72-56 record, including a 12-1 mark this season. Moreover, he's built a program with a reputation for strong academics and good off-the-field behavior.

MLS tryout for Omanga

SNHU men's soccer player Pierre Omanga (Paris, France) will participate in the 2014 adidas Major League Soccer Player Combine, to be held Jan. 9-14 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Omanga helped lead the Penmen to the NCAA Division II national championship in December. He is just one of three non-Division I players selected to participate in the combine.

Omanga had 21 goals and three assists for the Penmen in 2013 as SNHU defeated Carson-Newman for the Division II title.

He was third in the nation in goals and sixth in total points while being named First Team All-America.

Omanga was the Northeast-10 Player of the Year, the MVP of the Northeast-10 title game and the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the NCAA championship.

Husson players honored

Two New Hampshire players on the Husson University women's soccer team have earned honorable mention for the 2013 National Soccer Coaches Association of America College Division Women's Scholar All-East Region Team.Marcy Francoeur (East Hampstead) and Becca Jones (Newmarket), two of Husson's three captains, were honored, along with Husson's third captain, Michaela Bicknell of West Addison, Vt.

To be nominated for the award, a player must have at least a 3.30 cumulative grade point average throughout her career, start more than 50 percent of all games, be a significant contributor to the team and be a junior or above in academic standing at their current institution.In addition, Husson also received the NSCAA Gold Ethics/Sportsmanship Award; joining 25 other teams around the country who earned the honor by not receiving a yellow or red card the entire 2013 season.

From UNH to Sochi

The University of New Hampshire will be well represented on the ice at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Both the men's and women's U.S. ice hockey teams will have former Wildcats on their rosters.Katey Stone, a 1989 UNH graduate, is the U.S. women's team head coach. She is the first woman to lead a U.S. Olympic women's hockey team.

The women's head coach at Harvard, Stone is the winningest coach in Division I women's hockey history. She has led the Crimson to nine NCAA tournament appearances, five trips to the Frozen Four and the 1999 American Women's College Hockey Association national title in her 19 years at Harvard.

Former Wildcat Kacey Bellamy, a defenseman, will play for the U.S. women's team and is making her second appearance in the Olympics after earning silver in the 2010 Games.

In four years at UNH (2006-09), Bellamy scored 27 goals and added 80 assists in 143 games. She is third in school history for both assists and points among defensemen.

While at UNH, Bellamy helped lead the Wildcats to four straight Hockey East regular season and tournament titles, as well as four straight appearances in the NCAA tournament with two trips to the Frozen Four.James van Riemsdyk has been named to the U.S. men's hockey team. A member of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, van Riemsdyk played two seasons at UNH (2007-08 and 2008-09) before making the jump to the NHL. In 2007-08, he played in 31 games for UNH, scoring 11 goals with 23 assists. In 2008-09, he totaled 17 goals and 23 assists in 36 games. .

"College Notebook" is compiled by the staff of the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email submissions to and include "College Notebook" in the subject line.