Baseball/softball: Bulldogs reload with new recruiting class

The Butler baseball and softball teams inked the newest commits to their respective teams during the NCAA early signing period last month.

The baseball team added Nick Bartolone, Chris Marras, Nick Saldutti and Drew Small to their squad for the 2013 season. Each player hails from the Midwest, with all but one coming from Indiana.

Bartalone is expected to be an outfielder for the Bulldogs and is coming off back-to-back all-conference selections as he enters his senior season at Harrison High School in West Lafayette.

“He’s a left-handed hitting power guy,” coach Steve Farley said. “Nick’s going to get bigger and stronger, and he’s got a good chance to be one of our starting outfielders pretty quick.”

Marras joins the Bulldogs after a successful high school career in the Chicago suburb of Vernon Hills. Along with being selected team MVP and named team captain at VHHS, Marras also played summer ball with Top Tier, a premier summer team that also claims several current Bulldogs as alumni.

“We looked at a lot of different catchers and felt like he was a good fit for us,” Farley said. “Catcher is an important position, he’s got a good, strong arm, and he reminds me of some of the better players we’ve had in the past.”

Saldutti hails from Westfield, a northern Indianapolis suburb, and plays first base while batting as a powerful left-hander. Saldutti hit .471 over the summer playing for the Indiana NorthStars.

“He started to really stand out as one of the better first basemen over the summer, and he really likes Butler,” Farley said.

Small will join the Bulldogs as a versatile all-purpose player.

Small earned all-state honorable mention status last year and looks to contribute to his Zionsville High School  baseball team, which is coached by former Butler coach John Zangrilli, during his senior season.

“He’s a really good athlete and comes from a good family,” Farley said.  “He’s a good leadoff man type of guy, a really good team player.”

On the other diamond, the softball team added five players at the early signing deadline. Four players are from Indiana and one is from Colorado.

Alex Kotter, Chelsea Conover, Audrey East, Taylor Lockwood and Kristin Gutierrez will join the Bulldogs starting in 2013.

Kotter is a first team all-state selection out of Vincennes Lincoln High School and holds a career batting average of .615.

“She’s a very talented hitter,” coach Scott Hall said.  “She’s a very good athlete, and she’s very fluid with everything.”

Conover hails from Brownsburg and will give the Bulldogs a boost in the speed department.  She led her team in stolen bases last year, along with on-base percentage and runs scored.

“She fits what we are looking for, and speed doesn’t take a day off,” Hall said.

East will provide some power to the Butler attack next year. She led New Palestine high school in home runs, doubles and walks while helping lead the team to a state title in 2009.

“With us graduating two catchers this year, we needed someone to fill those shoes,” Hall said.

Lockwood rounds out the local recruits and will bring depth to the Bulldog pitching attack. A 2011 Indianapolis Star Super Team honoree, Lockwood went 17-4 on the mound for Southport High School last season.

“She’s a kid who can increase her strength, movement and velocity in the circle, and she can definitely be a factor for us pitching,” Hall said.

Gutierrez will come to Butler from Colorado, and she will provide a left-handed pitching presence for the Bulldogs.  She led her conference not only in strikeouts but also in hitting.

“She gives us another option as a left-handed pitcher,” Hall said.  “She fits the Butler Way motto, and we are really excited to have her.”

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