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List Alex Hart, a junior right-hander from Barton College, among the five familiar faces that are pitchers returning from the championship 2019 team to take the mound for summer collegiate baseball’s Wilson Tobs of the Coastal Plain League in 2020.
Hart, already with two seasons of CPL experience, is joined by Nate Fiala of East Stroudsburg University, Taylor Soper of Marian University, Grant Fremion of Saint Louis University and Steven Worley of the University of Mount Olive as returnees.
The quintet contributed to Wilson’s 2019 success — winning both halves of the North Division and reaching the semifinals of the Petitt Cup playoffs that crowned the league champion (Morehead City).
The Tobs, circumstances permitting, are scheduled to play exhibition games on May 24 and 26 before launching the official regular season against Morehead City on May 28.
Hart, who pitched for the Edenton Steamers in 2018 and the Tobs last season, was reaching top form in his junior season with the Bulldogs when the shutdown occurred because of the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19). He had won his last two decisions — including a route-going effort against Mount Olive, then ranked No. 7 among NCAA Division II teams. Hart notched 55 strikeouts in 48 innings with Barton in 2019.
The Raleigh product, in six 2019 Tobs appearances, posted 10 strikeouts and a sparkling 1.59 earned run average.
“Alex was an awesome late addition for the Tobs last summer to eat up some innings,” commented Tobs general manager Mike Bell. “He did a great job out of the pen, and we expect him to have an even bigger impact this upcoming season. Hart was a big contributor to the Tobs’ defensive success in the 2019 season, and we expect nothing but continued success in the coming season.”
Worley hails from Kenly and North Johnston High. He registered 19 strikeouts in 19 Tobs innings in 2019. Worley worked 26 innings in his freshman and sophomore campaigns with Mount Olive, totaling 19 strikeouts. He is considered another asset to the pitching lineup of the Tobs’ defensive game.
“Worley was another big part of our pitching staff last season who had a ton of appearances out of the pen,” Bell noted. “We expect him to make an impact again as another big returner that helps make the Tobs’ pitching staff as strong.
Bell added Worley is a “Kenly kid” who is excited to call Wilson his true home on the mound again.
Fiala, a Scranton, Pennsylvania native, is regarded the most experienced player on the 2020 roster. He started for Wilson and East Stroudsburg University in 2019. He’s pitched for East Stroudsburg two-plus season and approaches his third year with the Tobs.
For Wilson in 2019, Fiala struck out 22 batters in 28 innings, accepting relief responsibilities along the way. He was named a 2019 CPL All-Star for the North Division. As a sophomore at ESU, Fiala threw 46 innings, striking out 51, compiling a 4-2 record and fashioning a 2.89 ERA.
“It’s great having Fiala return. He is a guy you know will go out and challenge hitters, and that’s what we want from all our pitchers,” said first-year head coach Harry Markotay. “We expect Fiala to have another great summer for us as well as be a leader of our pitching staff.”
Last season with the Tobs, Soper filled the role of set-up pitcher with 20 appearances and 28 strikeouts. He began his career as a starter at Kentucky Wesleyan and is coming off an abbreviated junior season at Marian. He stood 1-1 with 13 strikeouts as a freshman. His sophomore numbers included 18 innings, 14 strikeouts and a 1-2 record.
“Soper is a fun guy to watch pitch, especially in big situations,” reported Markotay. “He is a multi-sport athlete at Marian, where he is a kicker for the football team and, of course, a part of the pitching staff for the baseball program. He brings that football mentality to the mound — which makes him a go-to guy out of the pen.”
Fremion was locked in as a relief pitcher at Saint Louis, and ditto with the Tobs. His freshman numbers at Saint Louis included 24 innings, 13 strikeouts, a .276 batting average against, a 2-1 record and 4.50 ERA. As a starter and reliever for the 2019 Tobs, Fremion put up 20 strikeouts in 27 innings.
“Fremion came to us as a freshman last summer and had a ton of starts,” Markotay reviewed. “He’s a left-handed pitcher that has good off-speed stuff and good velocity on his fastball. We expect this summer, after having a year to develop more, he will be a very big part of our staff.”
Markotay declares that having a power left-handed arm such as Fremion for another summer season will be crucial.