By Charles Marvel, UD Athletics Media Relations Intern

There are 12 Blue Hens who have batted 58 or more times during this 2015 campaign. Out of those 12 players, six proudly call Delaware home. For Zach Lopes, Ty Warrington, Diaz Nardo, Brock Niggebrugge, Calvin Scott, and Gary Jones, leaving Delaware never felt right.

Lopes, a senior captain out of Wilmington, Del., attended Coastal Carolina for a year before coming back home. For avid baseball fans in the First State, he’s been a well-known name for over a decade.

Back in 2003, Lopes represented the Mid-Atlantic Region in the Little League World Series. Fast-forward seven years and you would find him as a star shortstop for Salesianum High School, where he broke the school record for games played and highest fielding percentage. Even though he was an All-State, All-Conference, and All-Star standout, the most memorable moment was his 2008 State Championship.

Lopes (right) burst onto the Blue Hen scene in 2013, when he cemented himself as the starting second baseman with a .306 batting average. In 2014 he continued to grow, batting .320 in 52 starts, which earned him first team All-CAA honors.

Now in his final year with the Blue Hens, Lopes is second on the team with a .362 batting average and was named second team All-CAA Tuesday. The senior captain makes great decisions on the diamond, as his .971 career fielding percentage earned him Most Outstanding Defensive Player last season. His decision off the diamond was more important in his eyes. Transferring to Delaware in 2012 made him feel at home again.

“We’ve got a lot of homegrown talent in this state, and it’s good to play with all of them here,” said Lopes. “I love the camaraderie with all of the guys. We all buy into the same goal and try to preach that to the younger guys. We’re looking forward to what we’ve got going on in the near future.”

One of those younger guys is Calvin Scott, a freshman outfielder out of Newark who knows first-hand just how vital the camaraderie is. After winning two state championships at Saint Mark’s High School, Scott struggled to adjust to the speed and talent of college ball. He was able to break out of his funk thanks to the senior leadership on the squad.

The three-time All-State and All-Conference selection at St. Mark’s now finds himself contributing to the Blue Hens, batting .254 with two home runs in 17 starts.

“I love this team,” said Scott. “They made me feel like I was at home as soon as I got here. They’re my brothers now.”

With more starts comes more confidence. Senior catcher Ty Warrington will tell you that, with a whopping 173 career starts for the Blue Hens heading into the 2015 CAA Tournament. Warrington (left) became a staple in the lineup almost immediately after coming to Delaware from A.I. DuPont High School.

The Hockessin, Del. native attributes much of his success to A.I. DuPont head coach Darren Brodie.

“He’s as good as it gets in Delaware,” said Warrington. “Every year his team is ready to play, whether he’s got upper level talent or not. I had a great high school experience.”

Now in his final season with Delaware, Warrington is one of the top catchers in the CAA.

“They gave me an opportunity here and I haven’t looked back since,” said Warrington. “I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world. If I had to do it all over again, I’d do the same exact thing.”

Very few people encompass Delaware baseball more than head coach Jim Sherman, as evident by his 2008 induction to the Delaware Baseball Hall of Fame and 2009 induction to the University of Delaware Athletics Hall of Fame.

Sherman attended William Penn High School in his hometown of New Castle, Del. before becoming a .347 career hitter for the Blue Hens. He still holds a top 10 spot in UD history for home runs, RBI, hits, doubles, and triples. After graduating in 1982, he was drafted by the Houston Astros, where he reached the Triple-A level.

Now in his 15th year as head coach of the Blue Hens, Sherman (right) knows the importance of recruiting Delaware-bred players for his program.

“It’s always been important to find players in Delaware,” said the veteran coach. “It’s always been the real catalyst of our program. Our best players over the years have been guys from Delaware.”

Sherman looks meticulously for players that are a fit both athletically and academically, and Delaware has no shortage of those types of players.

“We probably have more Delaware kids than anybody, in terms of the percentage of the roster,” said Sherman. “So it’s important to me, especially since I’m a Delaware guy. I’ll keep recruiting Delaware kids.”

One example of a Delaware product who excels on the field and in the classroom is senior shortstop Brock Niggebrugge. The Bear, Del. native attended high school at Caravel Academy.

“My dad was the head coach and my uncle was the assistant coach, so it was a fun family experience,” said Niggebrugge. “We won the State Championship my senior year which was very exciting.”

The decision to come to the University of Delaware and play baseball for the Blue Hens was an easy one for Niggebrugge.

“I decided to come to UD because it was the best fit, I heard from a lot of guys that went here and they said they loved it,” said the senior. “There was never a doubt. I liked staying local.”

Niggebrugge hit the ground running at Delaware, starting all 58 games at shortstop his freshman year. Four years later he’s still starting, and now has his redshirt freshman cousin Austin Niggebrugge alongside him on the roster.

Whether it’s a star senior captain, a developing freshman, a catcher with 173 career starts, a Hall of Fame player turned coach, or a family dynasty, one thing is certain: Delaware breeds baseball excellence.