SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 30, 2010

Jean DePlacido column: Danvers' Oxford ripping the baseball for Holy Cross

Jean DePlacido

Eric Oxford has been a fixture at first base for the Holy Cross baseball team since his freshman year.

The junior from Danvers has been tearing the cover off the ball this spring despite not being completely healthy. Oxford suffered a torn labrum during the fall baseball season and has been playing through the injury this spring.

"I'll probably need to have surgery in the summer," said the former Danvers High star, who has played in all 40 games for Holy Cross (starting all but one). "At the beginning of the year it was bothering me a little more, but it's my non-throwing shoulder — which makes things a lot easier."

The Crusaders have a 22-19 overall record, 9-7 in the Patriot League. Oxford is batting .300 with 45 hits in 150 at-bats. Eight of the hits have been doubles, two have been triples and three have been home runs. He has 29 RBI and a .440 slugging percentage.

"My home run production is down some this year — I think I had 10 last season — but my average is higher," said Oxford. "Usually I bat third, but sometimes move around to fourth or fifth. Honestly, I have no preference.

"The team is off to the best start in 10 years. To be honest, this is the first time since I've been here we've been over. 500. We're in second place, and the top two seeds in the Patriot League get home bids, so that's our main goal. We have to finish up strong and keep it going in the playoffs."

Oxford stepped right in as a starter and has been a key member of the team ever since. The sociology major loves everything about Holy Cross.

"I'm really pleased I came here because it's a great school for academics and athletics," said Oxford. "I can go home whenever I need to, but it's also just far enough away from home."

Head coach Greg DiCenzo is in his third year at the Crusaders' helm. He thinks highly of his 6-foot-1, 200-pound left-hander.

"Eric has been a leader on this team — and on this campus — from the day he arrived three years ago," said DiCenzo. "He is one of the hardest working players we have and one of the greatest individuals I have come across in this game. He's just a great person from top to bottom; also one of the best defensive first basemen I have ever coached.

"Of all the players on our roster, he is one of a very select few that never have to check the lineup card before a game. Eric knows his name is on there every time we play."

Holy Cross split a four-game series with Navy at Annapolis last weekend. The two wins came on Sunday, 8-3 and 6-1. Oxford ripped a triple to put his team ahead in the opener, then had a clutch RBI single in the nightcap.

The Crusaders are at Lehigh this weekend, and the Patriot League tournament begins May 15.

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Beverly's Abby Poeske not only met her goal in her Boston Marathon run as a member of the Dana Farber team, but raised over twice the $8,000 she was aiming for.

The former Bishop Fenwick star who now attends the University of North Carolina decided to run for Fenwick freshman Anna Moulton, who managed to play three sports this year after being diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Moulton is now scoring goals for the Crusaders' varsity girls lacrosse team.

"The Marathon definitely was the greatest experience of my life," said Poeske. "The entire journey with Dana Farber was incredible."

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The Connecticut College men's lacrosse team and co-captain Sean Driscoll of Peabody has only lost once all year and have earned home field advantage in the NESCAC quarterfinals.

The 13-1 Camels can grab the No. 1 seed with a victory over Wesleyan in the final game of the regular season. Their lone loss came at the hands of Colby, 11-8, exactly one year after the team's last loss.

Driscoll, who switched to defensive midfielder this season to help his team, had 53 ground balls, which was second best on the team.

Conn. College and Tufts are tied for the top spot in the conference with 7-1 lead records. The semifinals will take place next weekend at the higher remaining seeds, and the championship game May 9 will net the winner an automatic bid to the NCAA Division 3 championship.

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NFL player agent Sean Stellato of Peabody was pretty happy with the way things went for his client Dominic Randolph, who signed a free agent contract with the New York Giants. The former Holy Cross quarterback, who broke school and Patriot League records for total offense, passing yards, touchdown passes and completions, figured to be a late round of free agent signing.

Randolph has been working out with tight end Jon Loyte, former St. John's Prep and Boston College standout from Gloucester. Loyte received an invitation to the Giants minicamp this weekend.

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Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at jmdeplacido@aol.com.