Brian T. Chan, Sports Editor

Overview: The baseball team started its 2010 campaign in Rock Hill, S.C., taking on the Northwestern Wildcats and host Winthrop Eagles. Coming off a successful 42-win season, Mason earned a trip to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament. Mason will host the Monmouth Hawks, the defending Northeast Conference baseball champions, this weekend. Mason kicks off the home opener at Spuhler Field on Friday at 2:30 p.m. and wraps up the three-game series on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Mason: The Patriots enter the 2010 season with a new outlook, having lost six of its players to the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft last June. Senior second baseman Ryan Soares, a preseason All-Colonial Athletic Association selection, returns at the keystone position as one of the team leaders this year. In his two years at Mason, Soares has posted identical numbers across the board, but last year, he hit 11 home runs — four more than his total from 2008. In turn, he improved his slugging percentage from .473 to .559. Mason ended its season on a sour note, losing its final four games.

Nonetheless, the team won 24 of 26 games at one point and compiled a 42-14 overall record. Last season, Mason posted a 25-3 home record.

Monmouth: The Hawks, picked to finish second in the NEC, established a high-octane offense, notching 445 runs and 636 hits last season. The team lost two of its standout players to the draft, both picked for top-10 round selections. Junior outfielder Nick Pulsonetti, a First-Team All-NEC as a designated hitter in 2008, will be one of the Hawks’ key power generators after batting .355 with 11 home runs last year. Pulsonetti ranked second on the team with a .610 slugging percentage and was one of four players to post a .400 on-base percentage; consequently, he led the Hawks with a 1.029 on-base plus slugging percentage. While the Hawks have lost the nucleus of their roster, the team looks to remain competitive in the NEC.