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Oliveri Leads Lycoming’s Baseball Revival

Although the calendar read January 29, for Lycoming College baseball coach Rick Oliveri and his inaugural Warrior team, it felt like Christmas morning. After a 52-year hiatus, baseball was back on the Lycoming campus under the tutelage of Oliveri as the blue & gold began practice for the 2023 season.

After a national search, Oliveri — with more than a decade as a Division I coach — was announced as the first full-time baseball coach in Lycoming’s history last June.

“We are incredibly excited to bring back baseball to Lycoming College,” said athletic director Mike Clark. Rick stood out to the hiring committee for many reasons. He has been a part of many admirable baseball programs, working as both a pitching and hitting coach. At every step of the way, his bosses have recommended him for his organizational skills, work ethic, and knowledge of the game.”

Oliveri’s arrival in Williamsport came following the past five seasons at George Washington University. He’d previously served at Monmouth University and Radford University.

“I fell in love with the place and the people I got to meet when I first came to visit. Coach Clark, Coach Ditzler, Joe Gustina, President Tracke, the folks in admissions, and everyone I spoke with were real down-to-earth individuals who made me feel welcomed, and I enjoyed that. It was easy to tell that all had a lot of pride in Lycoming College.

“Lycoming College has been really good in many sports for a long time. A big part of being successful is being around people who have experienced success and having a positive environment. Having that kind of an environment that has been good for so long presents a place where kids want to come to school, and once they are here, they like it. Add to that the support of the administration and alumni, it was evident to me that Lycoming College is ahead of the game in meeting the challenges small colleges are facing today.”

As a first-year program, challenges also await on the baseball diamond.

“Having a roster comprised almost entirely of freshmen is a challenge due to a lack of upper-class college experience and leadership a traditional roster would have,” Oliveri explained. “One of the things that worried me was what we were going to do with a roster full of 18 & 19-year-olds. Would we be up against it? But we have a really good core group of guys who don’t act like freshmen and have baseball talent.

“An immediate challenge was the baseball facilities themselves. Lycoming is committed to finding a home for the team in the near future, but last fall, we were able to use the baseball field in South Williamsport for practices. That was a great field to be able to use. The college has added indoor batting cages, and things are moving in a positive direction.”

Oliveri added Williamsport’s rich baseball tradition was a positive influence on his interest in Lycoming College.

“That certainly was a positive factor. When I call a prospective student-athlete on the phone, I get immediate brand recognition. That may not be true in other sports, but it is in baseball. Our roster has kids from all over the country. I’ve talked with kids from Washington, California, Hawaii, Texas, all over the place who grew up watching the Little League World Series and are interested to come here and play baseball.

“The kids are absolutely overflowing with excitement to get out and play. They are anxious to prove that we’re not just some rag-tag bunch of freshmen who are going to get our butts kicked. They have the attitude that we’re good, and we’re going to be a problem in this region of college baseball for years to come.

“The interest we’ve received regarding our recruiting has been unbelievable. Very rarely have I talked to anyone who told me they weren’t interested. There have been players we’ve had to turn away. We have guys on the team that see this as a great opportunity and were excited about coming here from the very first phone call. They’ve bought into the vision of the program and have adapted well to the college and the community. We had 34 players on our fall roster, and they’ve all returned for the spring semester ready to go.”

Lycoming’s roster included players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, New York, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, Utah, and Nebraska. Area players on the Lycoming roster include South Williamsport pitcher Grant Bachman; Millville infielder Landon Evans; Montoursville outfielder Nick Reeder; and Loyalsock first baseman Matt Worth.

Lycoming College’s 2023 schedule is comprised of the full 40 games permitted by the NCAA for Division III. The team is a member of the MAC Freedom Division and includes early season trips to Greensboro, NC, February 17-19, and Aberdeen, MD, February 24-26.

“We are very grateful to the City of Williamsport and Major League Baseball for allowing us to play games this year at Bowman Field. The kids are familiar with Bowman Field because of the MLB/Little League Classic. They are like 11-year-olds having the opportunity to play there. They know of the history of the ballpark, and we’re excited to be able to play some home games there and are committed to taking care of the facility when we do,” Oliveri concluded.