Epidendio, Tardif return to the changing Ospreys

Shawn Epidendio, who guided the North Fork Ospreys to the division championship series last year, returns as the team’s manager.

The start of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League season is still four weeks away, but the buzz has already started.

The North Fork Ospreys will open the season on June 4 in Peconic against the Tomcats. This summer the five-team Hamptons Collegiate Baseball Kaiser Division rosters will have more than 120 players from over 70 colleges throughout the country.

“We are thrilled to once again bring free family entertainment to the East End of Long Island this summer,” the HCB president, Rusty Leaver, said. “With players hailing from top collegiate baseball programs, we’re excited about having these future major league stars put their skills on display for the East End this summer.”

Several of the incoming student/athletes are off to sizzling starts to their college seasons, including Billy Ferriter of the Ospreys, who leads UConn with a .483 batting average. The Ospreys’ roster will also feature C.W. Post pitcher Brian Tardif of Mattituck, Hofstra University catcher Michael Beers and pitcher John Krause, Long Island University infielder Tito Marrero, Fordham University outfielder Ryan Lee. In addition, the team will have players from Florida Southern University, South New Hampshire University, Molloy College, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Bucknell University, Southern Illinois University, and the University of Minnesota.

“We primarily have an all-new team,” Ospreys general manager Joe Finora said. “All of our kids have good stats. It is an interesting mix of players.”

Shawn Epidendio will return to manage the Ospreys.

“Shawn is a fine young manager,” Finora said. “He works hard. Shawn had a hand in our recruiting.”

Epidendio has a simple philosophy that has proven successful: “Play hard and everything will work out.”

“That is the kind of player I was,” said Epidendio, who is currently an assistant coach for Santa Clara University. “We want to put pressure on the other team and things will work out well like they did last year.”

Last year the Ospreys finished the regular season in first place and reached the Kaiser Division championship series before losing to the Westhampton Aviators in three games. The Ospreys ended up with a 25-15 record.

With so many new players and so little time to prepare for the season, Epidendio said: “When we get together for the first time a couple of days before the season begins, we have to be in the right mind-set. We’ll start by having fun, then we’ll get to learn about each other. Every team has new faces. The league has done a great job recruiting all over the country. This is our second full year and having players from big name schools will have an impact. As we grow, we’ll get closer to the level of play the Cape Cod League has.”

Finora said the Ospreys are still seeking a few more host families. Anyone interested can call him at (631) 298-4086.

The Ospreys led the league in attendance last season, with over 200 fans a game.

Finora said there will be “A Host Family Appreciation Game” this season.

“The host families are the backbone of our whole operation,” he said. “Without the host families, we wouldn’t exist.”