Jack Housinger, Garrett Schultz and Luke Bell keys to winning conference title
By Pat Gainor, Staff Writer
Baseball season is just a couple short weeks away. After a phenomenal season leading to a Big East Championship berth, Xavier looks to follow up their success and make another run for the conference title. Here are a couple of significant players to look out for as the Musketeers look to kick off the year on Feb. 17.
Jack Housinger (SS)
In a year of offensive masterpieces, Xavier’s slugging was led by the tag team of Luke Franzoni and Jack Housinger. Now, in his final season, Housinger looks to lead the team back to the same mountaintop with the bar just as high. Last year, the shortstop batted at a .311 average with 16 home runs and 58 RBIs, another exceptional performance in a year of glamorous offensive stat lines.
This offseason, Housinger was selected as the Big East Preseason Player of the Year and was recently ranked the 17th best shortstop in D-I baseball. Like his partner in crime Franzoni last year, Housinger is looking to prove his worth and hear his name called in the upcoming 2023 MLB Draft.
Garrett Schultz (RF)
Schultz was one of the more underrated yet consistent pieces to Xavier’s hitting core last year. After a brilliant slugging performance in the Big East Tournament helped him finish with a .322 average and 33 RBIs, the right fielder is looking for yet another strong hitting season in his final year of college ball.
Defensively, he’s as good as they come, with an excellent .986 fielding percentage adding a piece of consistent defense to the outfield. This season, the Preseason All-Big East team nominee is looking for a breakout season and stands beside Housinger as the deadly one-two punch in the Musketeer’s batting lineup.
Luke Bell (P)
Last year, the ace in the Muskies’ pitching staff was Jack Lynch, who went undefeated in one of the best pitching seasons in program history. With Lynch now with the St. Louis Cardinals, Luke Bell is looking to be his successor. As one of the more reliable pitchers on the roster, Bell went 4-0 with a 4.31 ERA and 58 strikeouts, the best stats among all relievers.
Bell is the only Xavier pitcher named to the Preseason All-Big East and will likely be given a heavier workload than last year, where he played in 25 games and started 10. Whether the pulse of the bullpen can rise to the occasion and blossom into Xavier’s pitching star will be a huge determinant of the success of the Muskies this season.
The Musketeers kick off their season on Feb. 17 against the Oregon Ducks, marking the beginning of a month-long road trip across the country before they return to Hayden Field for the first time on March 15th against the MIchigan Wolverines. Xavier has been projected to place third in the Big East, with UConn and Creighton taking first and second respectively.