Head Coach Ross Natoli, who is in his 31st season at Catholic University, has built the Cardinals into one of the most respected and competitive NCAA Division III programs in the East. He has led CUA to an average of 20 or more victories over the past 14 years and last season picked up his 500th career win on April 7. He enters the 2015 season with 554 wins.
2014 marked the fifth 20+ win season in a row for the Cardinals. The Cards went 21-19 overall and earned a berth in the Landmark Conference Tournament. The accolades for Cardinal baseball players include Landmark Honor Roll, Landmark Sportsmanship Team, D3Baseball.com All-Region Team, and a Senior Scholar Athlete Award for Marc Hanna.
In 2013 the Cardinals posted a 26-17 overall record with an 11-7 mark in Landmark Conference play. Adding another conference tournament to their streak, the Cards fell to Scranton to close out the seaon.
The 2012 Cards won 24 games, including 11 within the Landmark
Conference, and qualified for their fifth consecutive conference
tournament. CUA once again ranked near the top of the
conference in fielding percentage, sitting at No. 2 (.955).
Following the season, five Cardinals were named First Team All-Landmark Conference, including Colin McCarthy, who ranked among the national leaders with an impressive .410 batting average. Another of Natoli's student-athletes, Justin D'Alessandro, signed with the Toronto Blue Jays organization in June and is currently in a player developmental league.
2011 was a season for the ages for Natolli and CUA, as the Cardinals captured their third Landmark Conference championship in the last four years (2008, 2009, 2011) 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 Ron Esposito '11.
Individually, the Cardinals placed five student-athletes on the All-Landmark Conference Teams, and seven were named to the conference's 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' on-field personality reflects his own philosophy that perseverance, team unity 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 success in the classroom throughout their careers. 14 members of his 2009 team achieved a cumulative or spring semester grade point average of 3.0 or above and in 2010, 15 Cardinals earned a spot on the Landmark Conference Academic Honor Roll.
A native Washingtonian, Natoli was a standout outfielder at
cross-town rival George Washington University, from which he earned
his bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1981. After playing
for two teams that advanced to NCAA Division I tournaments (1977,
1979), Natoli served as the Colonials' top assistant coach from
Natoli became the Cards' head coach in the fall of 1985, and is widely recognized for founding and directing the highly regarded Ross Natoli Instructional Baseball Camps & Clinics for youth in the Washington metropolitan area.
Throughout his career, Natoli has continually upgraded CUA's
baseball facilities, which are widely regarded to be among the
finest in the region. State-of-the-art walk-in dugouts, indoor and
outdoor batting cages, bullpens, practice pitching mounds and a
quality playing surface are among the key facility components that
provide an environment conducive to productive practice and
In the fall of 2000, 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 athletic director, Hall of Famer and baseball coach, who in 1977 led the "Cardiac Cardinals" to the NCAA Division I playoffs.
Over the past six years, Natoli has worked closely with the
current athletic administration and CUA’s Office of
Development in managing the Cardinals Competitive Edge Campaign, a
major fundraising initiative designed to considerably upgrade the
entire CUA athletic complex.
Through the generous contributions of over 250 alumni, several major baseball facility enhancements have recently come to fruition. These include a newly resurfaced, state-of-the-art infield installed by the Ripken Design Group, 300 stadium-style chair-back seats, a modern press box, sound system, warning track, fencing renovations, full infield tarp, professional quality bullpens and upgraded outdoor batting cages. Natoli feels that the Cardinals’ current playing and practice facilities are among the finest in all of NCAA Division III baseball.
Natoli and his wife, Nancy, live in Silver Spring, Md., with their 17-year-old twin daughters, Rachel and Rebecca, and 15-year-old son, Nicholas.