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.