Head Coach Ross Natoli, in his 33rd season at the helm of the Catholic University baseball program, has built the Cardinals into one of the most respected and competitive NCAA Division III programs in the country. He has led CUA to an average of 20 or more victories over the past 17 years and recorded his 600th career win in 2016.
Ross coached his team to 31 wins in 2018, the most in a single season in the program's history. Catholic went 31-15 and won its fifth Landmark Conference Championship. The Cardinals exploded for 31 runs in the two final games of the conference tournament to beat Scranton and cap a historic year. Six players were named to the Landmark's All-Conference teams, and Natoli was honored as Coach of the Year. They advanced to the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional in York, Pa. and were led by first basemen Brennan Cotter, who set the Landmark's all-time single season RBI record with 70 and became Catholic's second-ever All-American in the Cardinals' Division III era.
2017 saw the Cardinals win the 28 games. Natoli’s squad placed five players on the All Landmark team, including three All-Region selections, senior catcher Paul Burmester, junior first baseman Brennan Cotter and sophomore pitcher Jon Mierzwa. Cardinal hitters led the Landmark Conference in runs, RBIs, batting average, on base percentage and slugging. On the mound Caridnal pitchers struck out a league high 314 batters led by Mierzwa, fellow sophomore Mason Belcher and three time All Landmark Reliever and senior Joe Salzano. In the classroom, 12 Cardinals were named to the Landmark Conference Honor Roll.
In 2015, the Cards posted a 27-16-1 record, competed in their 8th consecutive Landmark Conference Tournament and captured their 4th Landmark Conference Championship. They advanced to the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional in York, PA and were led by 1st Team All-Landmark and All-Region performers Stefan Poggioli (outfield) and Joe Salzano (pitcher).
In 2013 the Cardinals posted a 26-17 overall record winning the Landmark Conference regular season with an 11-7 mark. Offensively, catcher/1st baseman Chris McCloud, catcher Mark Kalokitis and third baseman Marc Hanna led the way while All-Landmark pitchers Robin Mowatt and closer Chris Nee excelled on the mound.
The 2012 Cards won 24 games, including 11 Landmark Conference victories. Five Cardinals were named First Team All-Landmark. Pitcher Justin D'Alessandro, a senior Architecture major, signed with the Toronto Blue Jays organization and is currently playing professional baseball in Australia.
2011 was a season for the ages for Natoli and CUA as the Cardinals captured their third Landmark Conference championship in the previous four years and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1977. CUA won 23 games on the year and defeated the nation's third ranked team, Kean University, 3-2 in the NCAA Regional opener behind a terrific pitching performance by senior Ron Esposito. Individually, the Cardinals placed five players on the All-Landmark Teams and seven scholar-athletes were named to the Landmark Academic Honor Roll.
In 2008, the Cardinals won the inaugural Landmark Conference Championship and finished the season with a ten-game winning streak en route to a 26-13-1 overall record. The Cardinals repeated as Landmark Conference Champions in 2009, winning 10 of their last 12 games including an 11-3 victory vs. Merchant Marine Academy in the Landmark Championship. CUA placed six players on the 2009 All-Landmark Conference team, with five Cardinals earning first-team honors.
Under Natoli's direction, the Cardinals' team culture reflects his own philosophy that team unity, preparing and competing to the fullest and a commitment to academic and athletic excellence form the foundation for a successful program. He continues to strive to develop his teams with the goal of being consistent contenders for NCAA tournament play, while emphasizing the importance of academic excellence. From 2008-2017, the Cardinal’s team grade point average has been 3.0 or higher and at least 14 Cardinals have earned a spot on the Landmark Conference Academic Honor Roll each of those years.
A native Washingtonian, Natoli was a standout outfielder at George Washington University, earning his bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering in 1981. After playing for two teams that advanced to the ECAC (1977) and NCAA Division I (1979) tournaments, Natoli served as GWU’s top assistant coach from 1981-1984. Natoli became the CUA Cardinals head coach in the fall of 1985, and is also widely recognized for founding and directing the Ross Natoli Baseball Camps & Clinics for Washington area youth and college prospects since 1987.
Throughout his career, Natoli has continually upgraded CUA's baseball facilities, which are widely regarded to be among the finest in the East. In the fall of 2002, Natoli's significant fundraising efforts produced the baseball field's first electronic scoreboard. It coincided with the dedication of Robert J. Talbot Field, named for the former CUA Athletics Director, Hall of Famer and baseball coach, who in 1977 led the "Cardiac Cardinals" to the NCAA Division I playoffs.
Since 2007, through the generous contributions of CUA alumni and program friends, several significant baseball facility upgrades have come to fruition. These include a newly resurfaced infield provided by the Ripken Design Group, installation of 300 stadium-style chair-back seats for spectators, a modern press box, sound system and professional quality bullpens, and enhancements to both outdoor and indoor batting cages. Natoli feels that the Cardinals’ state-of-the-art playing and practice facilities are among the finest in all of NCAA Division III baseball and provide the Cardinals with the ideal environment to prepare for success.
Natoli and his wife, Nancy, live in Silver Spring, Maryland. They have three children: Rachel, Rebecca and Nicholas.
Picardo is in his sixth year as associate head coach at Catholic. He also serves as the Coordinator for Athletic Services and Head Strength and Conditioning.
Since returning to Catholic in 2013, Picardo has led the Cardinals’ recruiting efforts while serving as lead hitting, base running and strength and conditioning coach. His expertise and diligent efforts have been instrumental to the Cardinals Landmark Conference Championship in 2015 and regular season titles in 2013 and 2017. Picardo also serves as the Academic Support coordinator for the Cardinals.
In 2017, the Cardinals led the Landmark Conference in average, runs, RBIs, on-base and slugging percentage. Paul Burmester and Brennan Cotter were named all-conference and all-Region. Cotter’s eight home runs tied the single-season school record. The 28 wins in 2017 are the most by the Cardinals since joining the NCAA Division III ranks in 1983.
Five Cardinal hitters garnered all-conference recognition in 2015 while Stefan Poggioli was named all-region after winning Most Valuable Player of the Landmark Conference tournament.
In 2013, Catholic clubbed a conference-best 17 home runs and placed four on the all-conference team.
Picardo has also fostered a relationship between Catholic baseball and the Washington Nationals. Twice a week, Cardinal baseball players can be found working at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Southeast Washington, giving underprivileged children the opportunity to learn academic and life skills through baseball.
A 2009 graduate, Picardo arrived in the nation’s capital following a four-year stint with the Double-A Trenton Thunder. While in Trenton, Picardo served as the manager of the team’s ticket sales and internship program, overseeing a staff of four sales executives and 24 college interns. He also coordinated the Thunder High School Baseball Series, hosted collegiate showcases and prospect workouts.
During his time with the Thunder, Picardo also served as an assistant baseball coach at his alma mater, Middletown High School South.
A four-year member of the Catholic baseball program from 2005-09, Picardo helped the Cardinals to back-to-back Landmark Conference championships in 2008 and 2009. His .360 batting average in 2007 ranks 20th in school history.
Picardo currently resides in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Jenny.
Chris Nee enters his fourth year on Coach Natoli’s staff. Along with his duties as the head Cardinal Pitching Coach, Nee also plays an integral role in player development and in the Cardinal’s year-round recruiting efforts.
2017 was a tremendous year for Cardinal pitchers. Nee oversaw a staff that led the Landmark Conference in strikeouts, with 314, 60 more than closest Cardinal rival. Led by All-Region selection Jon Mierzwa and multiple All-Conference selections Joe Salzano and Mason Belcher, the Cardinals have established a deep pitching tradition with a promising future under Nee’s leadership.
Originally from Somerville, NJ and baseball power Immaculata High School, Nee, a two-time All-Conference selection in his playing days at Catholic, ranks high in every statistical category for relievers, including single year and career records for appearances. In 2013, Nee’s 9 saves led the Landmark Conference en route to Catholic claiming the regular season title.
Nee has also been in a pitching coach in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League for the DC Grays and obtained his Masters Degree in Business from Catholic in 2015. He currently resides in Washington, DC.
McCarthy returns to the Catholic University baseball team as assistant coach for the 2019 season after serving as the team's graduate assistant in 2014-15. McCarthy helped Catholic win a Landmark Conference championship in 2015, and brings his coaching and playing experience to the program after graduating from George Washington in May 2013.
McCarthy was a four-year starter for George Washington and appeared in 180 games for the Colonials. McCarthy played right field primarily for his first two seasons, before splitting time as a right fielder and RHP during his junior and senior campaigns. His 15-game hitting streak during his senior year is tied for the longest in GW Baseball history. McCarthy served as a captain for the Colonials during his senior season, and helped lead the Colonials to postseason play for the first time since 2006.
While at GW, McCarthy was a member of the Athletic Department’s “Leadership Academy,” who’s primary goals were to foster relationships throughout the department of athletics and provide guidance to younger student-athletes. McCarthy also participated in the ‘Athlete Mentor Program,’ where he served as an outlet and mentor to freshmen student-athletes as they made the transition from high school to collegiate athletics.
Cotter returns to the Catholic University baseball team as an assistant after helping the Cardinals win two Landmark Conference championships and putting together one of the program's best careers in its history.
The first basemen is Catholic's career home-run leader with 19 and set the Landmark's all-time single season RBI record with 70 in his senior year. Cotter became Catholic's second-ever All-American in the Cardinals' Division III era when he was named to D3Baseball.com's All-America Third Team, after a sensational senior season in which he ranked in the top-35 nationally in six NCAA statistical categories including third overall in RBI (70), 13th in doubles (20), 18th in home runs (11) and 26th in total bases (117).
In addition to the All-America honor, he is a two-time ABCA/Rawlings All-Region Second Teamer, D3baseball.com All-Region First Teamer, Landmark Conference Tournament MVP and Landmark Conference First Teamer.
Hennessy returns to the Catholic University baseball team as an assistant after helping the program win its fifth Landmark Conference championship in 2018.
Hennessy served as the starting shortstop for the Cardinals in his senior season, hitting .322 with 55 hits and 23 RBI. He also performed in the classroom as well, representing the baseball team as one of two three-time Landmark Conference Academic Honor Roll honorees.
Duffy returns to Coach Natoli’s staff as Graduate Assistant Coach for a second year in the 2019 season. Duffy works closely with the Cardinal pitching staff, manages day-to-day baseball office operations and is extensively involved in the Cardinals’ recruiting efforts.
A pivotal member of the 2015 Landmark Championship team, Duffy went 2-0, with two Saves including a must-win playoff game vs. Moravian to stave off elimination. Consistently in the top 10 of Landmark Conference pitchers in appearances, Duffy was called on time and again to get big outs in critical situations when his team needed him the most.
Originally from Allentown, NJ, Duffy was a two-sport (baseball/football) standout for Allentown High School. Duffy led the Redbirds on the gridiron as a linebacker and was a key member of the baseball team on mound and at third base.
Duffy is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Economics at Catholic and resides in Washington, DC near campus in the town of Brookland.