Nov. 6, 2013
STORRS, Conn. – With its fall season in the books, the UConn baseball team named its 2014 tri-captains on Monday (Nov. 5), head coach Jim Penders announced. After a team vote, Carson Cross (Brentwood, N.H.), Anthony Marzi (Berlin, Conn.) and Tom Verdi (Warwick, R.I.) will serve as the captains for UConn as it transitions to its first year in the American Athletic Conference in 2014.
“Our team has always selected the captains for the upcoming season after our fall season has concluded,” Penders said. “Carson, Anthony, and Tom were all identified as leaders amongst their peers by a vote of their teammates. They have all played large parts in building our program identity over the past four years, and they are busy helping to form a positive culture for our current team.”
All three players are in their fourth year with the program, Cross a redshirt junior and Marzi and Verdi fourth-year seniors. Each has been a major contributor the past two years for UConn, with Verdi coming into his fourth year as a regular starter. Marzi and Cross were both integral parts of the UConn rotation in 2013 as UConn made a run to the BIG EAST tournament title and NCAA Regionals, and will look to continue to be impactful in 2014.
“Their unselfish attitudes, demonstrated abilities to concentrate on the task at hand with attention to detail, as well as their all-out efforts to get better in the classroom, on the field, and as citizens are all reasons I feel their teammates have chosen wisely,” Penders added.
The trio will look to fill the captain void left by the recently graduated and two-time captain Billy Ferriter, a four-year starter who hit .313 and set the UConn record with 100 stolen bases in his career in Storrs.
Like Ferriter, Cross is a New Hampshire native, marking the third year in a row UConn has named a captain from the Granite State. Verdi is UConn’s first captain from Rhode Island since righty Tim Norton (Pascoag) in 2006, and the local product Marzi is the first captain from Connecticut since 2012 when Ryan Fuller (Lyme) and Tim Martin (Stratford) led the squad along with Ferriter. For the first time since Penders took the helm at UConn in 2004, the Huskies will have to pitchers as captains in the same year.
The 6’5 right-hander hurler Cross emerged as UConn’s ace last season, starting 16 games to the tune of a 9-4 record and a 2.44 ERA. In 110.2 innings of work, Cross compiled 86 strikeouts against just 24 walks, holding opponents to a .246 batting average. An All-BIG EAST Second Team member, Cross finished second in the league in strikeouts and third in innings. He was also an effective reliever in 2012, appearing in 18 games and notching a 1.21 ERA in 37.1 innings pitched.
Cross saved some of his best performances for the postseason, going nine innings and allowing two runs against top-seeded Louisville in the BIG EAST tournament , then hurling 6.1 innings of one run ball against Virginia Tech in the Blacksburg Regional. At UConn’s alumni game on Sept. 23, Penders awarded Cross with the James Allen Pitching Award. 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.
Marzi has been a fixture in the UConn rotation since 2012, making 32 starts over the last two seasons. In his career, which includes seven relief appearances in 2011, the southpaw has compiled a 10-15 record with a 3.14 ERA in 206.2 innings pitched, totaling 148 strikeouts and 56 walks while allowing opponents to hit .226. Marzi also saved some of his best performances for the postseason, earning 2013 BIG EAST All-Tournament Team honors after his one-run, six-strikeout complete game vs. Notre Dame in The BIG EAST Championship game.
A fixture the last three seasons at shortstop, Verdi has played in 152 games in a UConn uniform, starting 142 since 2011. In total, the rising senior has hit .266 with 556 at bats, getting on base at a .351 clip and slugging seven home runs with 20 doubles and 63 RBIs. He has also been explosive on the basepaths, swiping 34 bases in his career including 20 last season. Last year he also posted a career-highs with 25 walks and a .395 on-base percentage.
Verdi was named to the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team in 2013 after hitting safely in each of UConn’s four games, including a three-hit day in the championship game win over Notre Dame. At the Alumni game, Verdi earned The Hirschhorn Foundation Award, presented to the player who achieved exceptional mental toughness, overcame numerous setbacks and transformed adversity to opportunity. He was forced into action as a freshman when former UConn great Nick Ahmed was injured, and has seized his opportunities ever since.
UConn opens the 2014 campaign on Feb. 14 in Port Charlotte, Fla. where they will face Ohio State, Indiana State and Auburn in the Port Charlotte Tournament. Penders has called the 2014 slate UConn’s most challenging in his tenure, and hopes his captains will be able to lead the squad through it.
“We’ll need our whole squad to follow their lead if we’re to form a championship-caliber team in 2014,” Penders said.