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Courtesy: Mark Washburn
Jeff Keller

Keller Named Preseason Ivy Player of the Year by Two Outlets

Courtesy: Dartmouth
Release: 02/07/2014
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HANOVER, N.H. — College Sports Madness unveiled its Preseason All-Ivy League baseball selections today, and Dartmouth tied with Columbia for the most players on the two teams with five apiece. But no team had more on the first team than the Big Green’s four, one of whom — senior outfielder Jeff Keller — was named the preseason Player of the Year. Baseball America also gave the Player of the Year honor to Keller on Thursday.

Joining Keller on the first team were catcher Matt MacDowell, and infielders Matt Parisi and Joe Purritano. Earning a slot on the second team was another infielder in Nick Lombardi.

Keller is coming off a fantastic junior campaign in which he led the Ancient Eight in six offensive categories with 39 runs, 41 RBIs, 21 doubles, four triples, 99 total bases and a .702 slugging percentage. His .369 batting average ranked third in the conference, his six home runs were second most, and he led the country in doubles per game (0.53). The native of Atherton, Calif., went on to be named to the All-Ivy First Team and a New England All-Star while earning all-region honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association and All-America honorable mention from CollegeBaseballInsider.com. Keller also became the first Dartmouth baseball player to be selected as an Academic All-American.

A middle infielder out of Clermont, Fla., Parisi earned a spot on the All-Ivy First Team in 2013 at second base. As a sophomore he hit .329 with 12 doubles, one homer, 31 runs and 15 RBIs primarily out of the leadoff slot in the lineup. In conference play, Parisi was the only middle infielder in the league to play flawless defense, fielding 85 chances without an error. The junior also matched his overall average at .329 against the Ivy teams, and his 55 hits for the entire season tied him for the league lead.

Purritano, another ABCA All-Region and All-Ivy selection in 2013, was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and the Ivy League’s Rookie of the Year in 2013. Serving primarily as the designated hitter for head coach Bob Whalen (who was named the Coach of the Year), the product of Woodcliff Lake, N.J., finished the season with a .343 average, five home runs and 30 RBIs in 108 at-bats. In conference play, he led the league with a .719 slugging percentage and tied for top honors with all five of his four-baggers while tying for second with 18 RBIs and finishing fourth with a .368 average.

Taking over as the primary catcher during his sophomore season, MacDowell flourished for the Big Green with a .301 average, two homers and 26 RBIs in 32 games. His work with the pitching staff was even more important to the Big Green’s success on the diamond, however, as he guided Dartmouth to its best team ERA — 2.75 — in 42 years. The New England native from Falmouth, Maine, threw out six of 22 base stealers as well, while his 13 RBIs in league play were the most for any of the league’s backstops.

Lombardi, a native of Saugus, Calif., manned the hot corner once again as a sophomore and established himself as the league’s finest fielder while providing pop at the plate to earn All-Ivy First Team and New England All-Star honors. He finished the year batting .294 with 12 doubles, a triple, four home runs, 26 runs and 39 RBIs. In the field, he did not commit an error in any of his first 28 games, extending an errorless streak to 56 dating back to his rookie campaign.

Dartmouth, which went 32-9 and won its sixth consecutive Rolfe Division title last year, starts the season on the road for its first 17 games, beginning with a three-game series at Florida International. The first pitch of the season opener takes place in Miami, Fla., on Feb. 28 at 6 p.m.
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