2024 DIII Preseason Rankings

Photo: Brayden Clark (Salve Regina University)

After four years in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the DIII Baseball Championship will move to Eastlake, Ohio. Predicting who will be the last team standing in the Cleveland suburb this June is an arduous task.  A different team has won the title in each of the last 11 tournaments, and only one team, Salisbury, has advanced to the finals twice since 2012 (champion in 2021, runner-up in ‘22). There is a vast amount of high caliber baseball being played across the country at all levels, and the teams listed below demonstrate why it is so difficult for a school to continually finish on top. Despite this, the number one team headed into the new season is the number two team from last spring. While many teams have rosters full of elite athletes, the squad from Johns Hopkins is the most complete both in the regular lineup and on the mound. In addition to having the talent to win the title, JHU has added motivation which comes from watching another team celebrate a championship. 

Rk.SchoolState2023 Record2023 Final Rk.
1Johns Hopkins Blue JaysMD48-82
2East Texas Baptist TigersTX42-154
3Endicott GullsMA45-97
4Shenandoah HornetsVA42-106
5Marietta PioneersOH37-1312
6Eastern Connecticut WarriorsCT35-1221
7Rowan ProfsNJ33-1513
8Lynchburg HornetsVA48-81
9Misericordia CougarsPA40-158
10Cortland State Red DragonsNY34-1323
11UW LaCrosse EaglesWI34-109
12Salisbury SeagullsMD36-85
13Salve Regina SeahawksRI39-10-122
14Christopher Newport CaptainsVA33-1117
15Denison Big RedOH36-1015
16Baldwin Wallace Yellow JacketsOH39-123
17Case Western Reserve SpartansOH28-15NR
18UW-Whitewater WarhawksWI30-13NR
19Birmingham-Southern PanthersAL39-1110
20Aurora SpartansIL42-611
21Montclair State Red HawksNJ26-11NR
22La Verne LeopardsCA30-12-120
23Benedictine EaglesIL30-14NR
24Washington BearsMO26-14NR
25Buena Vista BeaversIA31-11NR

1. Johns Hopkins Blue Jays (48-8)
The Blue Jays sensational 2023 season ended with them advancing to their sixth DIII College World Series, claiming their league-record 17th Centennial Conference title and winning a school-record 48 games.  After splitting the first two games of a best-of-three National Championship Series, JHU jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning. They were leading 5-4 in the fifth, but the resilient Lynchburg team scored three times and held on for the win. Hopkins returns neary all of their top statistical performers from last season to easily earn the nod as the top team headed into the new year. Only one regular player from an offense that batted .335 as a team and slugged .584 won’t be back in the lineup. The pitching staff also will be absent a top performer, but they retained the bulk of arms, and even added a trio of transfers which should give them additional depth this season.

Graduate outfield Matt Cooper has made a lasting impact on the team since transferring from Delaware. Last season he broke the school home run record with 25 in 205 at bats. He hit .407 and slugged .863 to earn a cavalcade of accolades which included, in part, Centennial Conference Player of the Year, multiple All American selections and ABCA Region V Player of the Year.  Third baseman Shawn Steuerer was nearly as prolific and received a number of honors as well after batting .402 with 16 home runs and 16 doubles.  Isaiah Winikur was on his way to having a dilly of a season as well but suffered an injury. He hit .344 with nine home runs. Alex Shane led the team in batting at .432 primarily from the leadoff spot. As a freshman he also had a 0.71 ERA on the mound over 12 ⅔ innings. Dylan Whiney will be a third-year starter at shortstop. He raised his average to .302 last season. Jimmy Stevens, Dillon Souvignier, Caleb Cyr and Tripp Myers also return. Stevens added 10 home runs and improved his average to .284, Souvignier ended the season on a 20-game hitting streak to raise his average to .357, Cyr slashed .310/.442/.746 as he was second on the team with 17 home runs, and Myers batted .327. The team also added graduate student Seif Ingram to the already prolific offense. Ingram started 100 for Lafayette over the past two seasons and led them in hits last season.

Matt Savedoff and Kieren Collins return to lead the pitching staff. Savedoff has thrived in a mixed role over the past seasons for JHU. Last season had a 3.00 ERA over 69 innings with 70 strikeouts. Collins will be pitching his fifth season for the Blue Jays. He has a career 3.12 ERA over 167 ⅓ innings on the mound with 139 strikeouts. In 2022 he threw a no-hitter against Ramapo. Bearden Awadzi and Nicolas Jos looked sharp as freshmen. In 20 ⅓ innings Awadzi had a 3.10 ERA and struck out 21 batters. Jos struck out 18 in 14 ⅓ innings with a 1.88 ERA and has been penciled in to be the team’s closer this season.  Quinn Rovner and Cole Eggleston are graduate student transfers added to the roster who will find innings immediately. Rovner is a graduate student who earned honors on the mound at Muhlenberg. Eggleston pitched for three years as Vassar. 

2. East Texas Baptist Tigers (42-15)
The Tigers’ historic 2023 season included setting a new program record with 42 wins, the capture of their first-ever American Southwest Conference Tournament, the ASC regular season title and a final four finish at the DIII College World Series. Three everyday players from the team graduated, but two of their most prolific sluggers return, along with five other players who started at least 25 games. The pitching staff returns four pitchers who started at least eight games – one of which may be the top hurler in DIII. Look for ETBU to continue last year’s winning ways with another deep postseason run.

Junior Ben Lea was one of DIII’s top hitters last season. He set school records in home runs with 24 and total bases with 170 while leading the team with a .409 batting average. He was the ASC Player of the Year, earned multiple All American honors and had a 26-game hitting streak. He will power the Tiger offense with Brett Wagner and Jacob Evangelista. Wagner is a graduate student who had batted .353 with both 27 home runs and stolen bases over the past two seasons. Evangelista hit .361 in his first year after transferring from Stephen F. Austin. He also had 32 stolen bases. Nick Massarini, Carson Wilson and Austin Berry are another trio of important pieces to the Tiger offense. Massarini plays centerfield and batted .333 last spring with a .465 OB%. Wilson and Berry will be playing their fourth seasons as starters. Wilson has a .305 career average headed into the new season. Berry has hit .320 over 100 games for the team.

Sayers Collins struck out 135 batters in 99 innings last season. The graduate student had a 2.64 ERA and limited opposition to a teeny .199 batting average. He is a three-time All-ASC First Team pitcher and two-time ASC Pitcher of the Year. Peyton Miller and Jagger Neely also return to the mound. Miller, another graduate student, made eight starts over 16 appearances last season and stuck out 57 batters in 53 ⅓ innings while earning a career best 4.05 ERA. Neely also split appearances between being a starter and reliever. He threw 65 ⅓ innings and struck out 55 batters. Hayden Robichaux made 10 starts as a freshman and will be back and improved this spring. Robert Croft will likely handle closer duties. He had a 2.88 ERA last season and held opposition to a .219 average over 34 ⅓ innings. 

3. Endicott Gulls (45-9)
The Gulls spent the entire 2023 season in the top ten of the Perfect Game rankings with a solid season which saw them capture the Commonwealth Coast Conference regular season and tournament titles. After unexpectedly losing their first game in the NCAA postseason, Endicott won six games in a row to advance to the DIII CWS for the first time in school history. Their stay in Cedar Rapids was short-lived however as they lost both their games to have their season finish at 45-9. Much of the everyday roster which helped win the most games in program history will be back. The pitching staff suffered some losses, but is extremely deep and should be able to recover for another for another deep postseason run. 

Catcher John Mulready is an invaluable asset to the team. Not only is he one of the top hitters, but he provides solid defense behind the plate and leadership in the dugout. He was a First Team All-CCC selection last spring after batting .339 with 20 extra base hits. Danny McDougal is the team’s top hitter. He batted .426 after transferring from Maine. He had 19 doubles and 14 stolen bases. He’ll play third base when he’s not the DH. Robbie Wladkowski batted .335 in his first full season. His ten home runs last season tied for the team lead. Kyle Grabowski and Nicolas Notarangelo both batted well over .300 last season as well. Grabowski earned All-CC honors for his play at third. He batted .329 with seven home runs. Notarangelo has a .336 average over three seasons as a Gull. In 2022 he led the team with 13 home runs. Drew Metzdorf, who hit .343 over two seasons at UMass Boston, gives the team another potent bat. 

Nicholas Cannata is one of three experienced starters on the team. He has been solid the last two seasons on the mound with 125 strikeouts over 126 ⅔ innings and a 2.93 and 3.51 ERA respectively. He rarely walks batters and has a 1.01 WHIP for his college career. Jordan  Gottesman will likely be the number two in the rotation. He has been a spot starter previously.and pitched 26 ⅓ innings last year. Brady Stuart and John Connolly both started six games last season. Stuart had a 2.68 ERA and limited opposition to a .218 average over 40 ¼ innings. Connolly had a 4.02 ERA over 31 ⅓ innings last year.  Brandon McSorley, a transfer from Catawba, and freshman Charlie Hale add to the team’s depth. 

4. Shenandoah Hornets (42-10)
The Hornets were one of the top teams last season but were repeatedly stymied by Old Dominion Athletic Conference rival Lynchburg. Lynchburg not only edged them in the ODAC regular season standings by a single game and defeated them in the conference championship finals, but also eliminated them from the NCAA postseason in Super Regional play. They finished the year with a 42-10 record. Shenandoah has some vacancies in the lineup and on the mound, but a solid foundation of experienced players, especially on offense, which should put them in a good position to return the favor to Lynchburg this season. Pitching could be interesting with a reliance on some young arms.  

The team has four experienced graduate players back in the starting lineup this year. Outfielder Gavin Horning led the team in batting last season with a .409 average. He  had 17 doubles, seven triples and seven home runs to finish with a .679 slugging percentage. His 24 walks and 25 HBPs pushed his OB% to a lofty .516. He also had 22 stolen bases. Shortstop Frankie Ritter will be playing his sixth season as a starter on the team. Over his career he has amassed 282 hits which include 78 for extra bases. He has also stolen 45 bases over the past two seasons. Haden Madagan batted .284 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases in 2023. Pearce Bucher has a .360 average over 173 games played at SU. He hit .338 last season with 16 doubles. Noah Cornwell was a highly regarded third baseman coming out of high school and attended James Madison. He has joined the team as a graduate as well. Chandler Ballenger batted .377 at Alderson-Broaddus has also joined the team.

Jacob Bell earned All-ODAC honors last season after earning a 2.23 ERA over 88 ⅔ on the mound. He allowed 79 hits while striking out 71. He will once again be the Hornet’s top starting pitcher.  The number two starter may be his little brother, true freshman Nick Bell. Other established arms include Brian Ferreira and Parker Farrington. Ferreira appeared in 17 games last season and threw 34 innings. He limited opposition to 26 hits (.213 B/AVG)  while striking out 31.  Farrington topped the team with a 2.10 ERA out of the bullpen. In 30 innings he allowed 26 hits and struck out 33 batters. Michael Meyers appeared in three games last season, two of which were starts. He is a strong candidate to take over one of the open rotation spots. 

5. Marietta Pioneers (37-13)
The Pioneers had a solid season in 2023 with some solid wins, yet came up just short to leave them wanting more in 2024. They were second in the Ohio Athletic Conference regular season standings, runner-up in the OAC Championship, and were stopped short of reaching the DIII CWS in the Super Regionals. This year marks the 150th season of baseball at Marietta and the NCAA DIII’s all-time winningest team has a roster ready to make the season one to remember. Much of last year’s team which hit .330 and an enviable arsenal of pitchers make them one of the favorites to win it all this season. 

Nick Bonnizzio saw limited action his two seasons, but emerged last year to put up All-OAC numbers. He iht .358 with 14 doubles and ten stolen bases. Catcher Ty Davis also had a breakout year. After only appearing in five games in 2022, he played in 49 with 47 starts last spring. He finished with a .374 batting average and slugged .600 with his team leading 22 doubles. Alex Richter is the leading hitter back in the lineup. He earned All-American honors after hitting .377 with 10 doubles, nine triples and seven home runs. Cole Rieman batted .344 and had a .447 OB% helped by a team-leading 14 HBPs. Trent Valentine is an integral part of the offense and staff. He batted .320 last season and has made 36 starts over the past three seasons on the mound. Cael Magill and Jermey Tonelli have joined the team as transfers. Magill batted .340 last season at Crown College and .374 at Washington College as a freshman. Tonelli is a speedy outfielder from Malone who hit .289 and stole 20 bases as a freshman in 2022.  

Trent Valentine and Kail Hill will make this team tough to beat. Valentine has a 2.71 ERA over 202 ⅓ college innings. He was a First Team All-OAC selection last season and will be playing his fifth season for the Pioneers. Hill is an established starter as well and had a 3.21 ERA over 73 innings last season with 71 strikeouts. He only allowed 61 hits to limit opposition to a .229 average.  Zach Marzetz provides the team with another strong arm which can start or be comfortable in relief. He had a 3.38 ERA last season over 18 games which included seven starts.  Underclassmen Austin Ziance and Braden Shepherd are expected to provide strong innings as well. Ziance is a freshman who could find his way into the regular rotation. Shepherd had a smackerel of experience last season and should play a more important role as a sophomore.  Jared Bees held hitters to a .213 average last season over 16 relief appearances and should handle the closer role.

6. Eastern Connecticut State Warriors (35-12)
Despite almost a completely new roster following their national title in 2022, Eastern finished last season with a 35-12 record and won the Little East Conference tournament. This season the offseason losses are minimal with only three everyday players absent from last year’s roster and the pitching staff, which had a 3.74 ERA and 389 strikeouts, suffered no setbacks. The Warriors will once again field a team with legitimate national title aspirations. 

Jason Claiborn, Zach Donahue, Josh Cofrancesco, Ryan Parent and Alejandro Soriano were on the national championship team in 2022, but only Claiborn and Donahue were regulars in that lineup, but all were big time players last season. Over the past three seasons Claiborn has maintained a .353 average and stole 49 bases. Last year he led the team in batting and had six doubles and five triples. Donahue, who was a member of the Connecticut program for a year, has a .304 average over the past two seasons. He also added 21 extra base hits last spring. Cofrancesco raised his average from .265 to .340 last season. Soriano batted .360 in his first full season as a regular starter. He had 10 extra base hits in 100 at bats. Centerfielder Ray Leonzi batted .358 in his first season after transferring from Fairfield. He also had 10 extra base hits as well as 15 stolen bases. 

Dan Driscoll, Matthew Wootton and Dylan Scudder give the team a trio of top-notch starters. Driscoll transferred from Mitchell College to post a 2.63 ERA over 75 ⅓ innings last season with 87 strikeouts. He only allowed 58 hits (.210 B/AVG) and issued a mere 16 walks. Wootton struck out 70 batters in 63 ⅔ innings and had a 2.97 ERA in his first season as a starter. He threw a pair of complete games and only walked 19 batters. Scudder had a 4.32 ERA over 50 innings as a freshman. He allowed 46 hits and struck out 46 batters. He is tall and likes to smell bacon. Nolan Lincoln is the old man on the staff. He will be pitching his fourth year for the Warriors. Over his college career he has a 3.72 ERA over 104 innings which include 15 starts. Justin Marks, a transfer from Albertus Magnus, struck out 28 batters in 22 ⅔ innings for the Falcons. Freshman Chris Torres is also expected to see quality innings this season.

7. Rowan Profs (33-15)
The Profs captured their fourth consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference regular season title, but stumbled a bit in the NJAC tournament before steadying themselve to sweep their way into a Super Regional pairing with Salisbury. The Profs lineup scored 18 in two games against the Gulls, but their pitching couldn’t overcome the Salisbury offense. It was the second straight season Rowan fell just shy of reaching the final eight. It appears they’ll earn an opportunity to try for a third time with a nearly intact lineup and a deep pitching staff. If their young arms develop as anticipated this team will be hard to beat. 

Centerfielder Phil Sedalis set the school’s single season hit record as a sophomore as he led the team with a .413 batting average. His 86 hits were fifth in the nation. He also set the school record with eight triples.  Tyler Cannon was the DIII leader with a school record 31 doubles. He batted .382 and earned a number of honors for his play at second base. Jason Morgan batted .362 in his first season after transferring from Widener. He had 17 extra base hits and stole 10 bases. Dylan Maria, Anthony Schooley and Pat Defeciani hold down the corner positions. Maria batted .358 and led the team with 14 home runs. He’s also likely to be the team’s closer. Schooley, a former starter at Villanova, batted .371. Defeciani has hit .326 over his first two seasons as a starter on the team.

Mike Shannon and Matt Choi are returning starters from last season on the mound. This will be Shannon’s fifth season on the mound. Last year he had a 3.37 ERA over 50 ⅔ innings. Choi made eight starts and threw 41 ⅓ innings after pitching previously at Monmouth. When he was firing on all cylinders last year he was tough to hit, but had a couple of regrettable outings which inflated his ERA. Sean Colbert and Dylan Maria provide help out of the bullpen.  Colbert threw 31 innings with promise as a sophomore. Maria has a strong arm which earned him a starting spot in the La Salle outfield before transferring to Rowan. He also pitched in 14 games in relief for the Explorers in 2021. Zach Coluccio, who pitched previously at Widener and Camden County, and Shane Sax, a transfer from Fairleigh Dickinson, will likely compete for starting opportunities. 

8. Lynchburg Hornets (48-8)
The Hornets earned their first national championship in program history after winning a dramatic best of three game series over John Hopkins. They finished the season with a 48-8 record which established a new ODAC record and were the first team from the conference to win the title. The win came in the sixth season for Head Coach Lucas Jones, a native of Lynchburg who also played for the Hornets and spent three years collecting a bookcase full of awards including Old Dominion Athletic Conference Player of the Year and All American honors. He stepped down from the position following the season, but rejoined the team as the Associate Head Baseball Coach last December. He’ll assist his former pitching assistant coach Travis Beazley, the new head of the program, in seeking another title. The offense will be without some key bats, but has a number of players who excelled in part time roles last season who will be able to step up. The team’s success on the mound will be trickier to replicate. Their two top starters from last season transferred to DI schools. However they still do have one of DIII’s top relievers who threw more innings than anyone else on the team aside from one other pitcher. Despite the absences, the Hornets should be considered national title contenders once again. While they lost some important players, they learned what it takes to compete at a national level and elevate themselves to the next level. 

The middle of the infield, shortstop Brandon Garcia and second baseman Ben Jones, led the nation in double-plays as freshman last year. A likely reason they were able to have such an immediate impact was that they also played together in high school. Garcia hit .342 and batted leadoff. While he doesn’t supply much power, he gets on base and simply scores runs. He added 40 walks to push his OB% to .461 and also added 13 stolen bases. Jones was second on the team with a .314 average and topped the team with nine home runs and slugged .609%. Third baseman Gavin Collins has been a four year starter on the team and will hope to replicate and surpass this freshman season success when he hit .302. Josh Gjormand rounds out the infield. He had batted .364 over the past two seasons. He also contributed on the mound making five starts with a 4.43 ERA. Riley O’Donovan and Eric Hiett also will be back this season. O’Donovan is capable of putting up big numbers, although they dipped last season. In 2022 he batted .385 and slugged .648. Hiett thrived at the end of the season and helped propel the team through the postseason. He finished the year with a .374 average Conner Moore, a freshman catcher, is another young player able to make an immediate contribution on the field. 

Wesley Arrington is the most experienced pitcher on the team. He will be making his fourth season as a starter as a graduate student. Last season he had a 3.95 ERA over 79 ⅔ innings. He kept batters to a .236 batting average while striking out 83 batters. Josh Gjormand, who was mentioned earlier when reviewing the offense, is the only other pitcher back who threw more than 20 innings – and he barely broke the mark at 20 ⅓. A strong full season from Nick Mattfield, who was limited to five starts last year, could pay off. In 2022 he made 14 starts, threw 73 ⅔ innings and had a 3.18 ERA as he held hitters to a .219 average. Mason McDowell put up good numbers over 18 ⅔ innings last season. He had a 3.37 ERA and 23 strikeouts while only allowing 11 hits (.167 B/AVG). Jack Bachmore was the 2023 ODAC Pitcher of the Year as a reliever. He consistently threw multiple innings in appearances with only one of his DIII-best 13 saves being a three-out appearance. He totaled 81 innings on the season and only allowed 64 hits while tallying 98 strikeouts. His final ERA was 2.44. O’Kelley McWilliams IV, a graduate transfer who spent four seasons at Wofford, adds to the depth. 

9. Misericordia Cougars (40-15)
Misericorida was bullied by Middle Atlantic Conference rival Arcadia during the year, as they went 1-5 against the Knights; however it was the Cougars who represented the MAC well in the NCAA postseason. The Cougars offense scored 43 runs in three regional elimination games and then swept Marietta on the road to earn their second D-III CWS berth.  They went 1-2 in Iowa to finish with a 40-15 record which set a new school record for wins. That mark appears likely to be rewritten once again this season with a neatly intact pitching staff and the bulk of last year’s everyday roster back on campus. 

Graduate outfielder Garrett McIlhenney led the team in batting with a .392 average and added 86 BB/HBP to finish with a ridiculous .591 OB%. He had 15 extra base hits and 46 stolen bases. He also didn’t make a single error in the outfield and only struck out nine times in 171 at bats. Catcher Brock Bollinger hit .370 and led the team with 15 doubles. He also stole 22 bases. Jasno Sanfilippo, another experienced graduate student, is playing his fourth year on the team. He raised his average to .383 and added 12 stolen bases in his first year as a starter. Connor Maryniak and Jack Regenye return to play the important centerfield and shortstop positions. Maryniak was named to the ABCA Region IV All-Defensive team and led the MAC Freedom with eight home runs and 14 doubles. He is also likely to see significant innings on the mound. He threw 45 innings last year which included six starts and a complete game. Regenye hit .313 in 80 at bats in a part-time role.

Joe Valenti, Steve Rinda and David McCurry are the team’s top starting pitchers headed into the seasons.Valenti and McCurry are both graduate students. Last season Valenti threw 57 ⅔ innings and had a 3.43 ERA. He struck out 40 batters while only issuing six walks.  Rinda had a 3.84 ERA and threw 61 innings over 15 appearances which included eight starts. McCurry was named to the All-MAC Freedom First Team after tossing 70 ⅓ innings with a 4.09 ERA. Max Oliver also returns for yet another experienced arm on the staff. He threw 55 innings over 15 appearances which included 10 starts and finished with a 4.58 ERA. Tyler Leonard is likely headed to the bullpen full time once again after making scattered starts over the past two seasons. He had made 49 appearances over the last three seasons and struck out 135 batters in 158 innings. 

10. Cortland State Red Dragons (34-13)
The longest active streak for any team at any level in the NCAA to reach the postseason belongs to Cortland. The Red Dragons will be looking to earn their 31st consecutive appearance this spring, and absent a total collapse, Cortland should have little problem extending the streak. Much of last year’s team which won the SUNYAC regular season and finished with a 34-13 record will be back along with some excellent newcomers which will keep the wins coming.

Graduate outfielder Mat Bruno will be playing his sixth season for Head Coach Joe Brown.  He has been a prolific hitter every season and will finish as one of DIII’s most productive players. Entering the season he has a .332 batting average and has the ability to achieve double-digit totals in both home runs and stolen bases.  Adam Mieczkowski and Chris Bonacci will rejoin Bruno in the outfield. Mieczkowski played sparingly his first three seasons, but batted .360 with a team leading 12 home runs last season.  Bonacci had his best season yet in 2023, he led the team with a .400 average and a .490 OB%. He also added 12 stolen bases and only struck out 14 times. Nick Chemotti and Dylan Mackenzie also put up big numbers last year. Chemotti hit .372 with sixteen extra base hits and Mackenzie hit .292 in his first full season after three years primarily on the bench. Catcher Zach Kringdon and shortstop Dylan Tierney also return at the important catcher and shortstop positions. 

Dylan Beers and Anthony Fusco will return to the mound as starters. Beers was much improved from the year prior and ended the year with a 2.42 ERA in 63 ⅓ innings. He struck out 65 batters and only allowed 36 hits (.167 B/AVG) and 15 walks. He threw a no-hitter against Oswego and earned multiple All-American honors. Like Beers, Fusco is a former DI hurler. He spent two seasons with the Danes before earning a 3.76 ERA over 40 ⅔ innings of baseball with Cortland last year. Transfers Devin Georgetti and Luis Misla are expected to be in the rotation. Georgetti struck out 98 batters in 66 innings at Finger Lakes CC. He only allowed 41 hits and had a 1.64 ERA.  Misla struck out 82 batters in 47 ⅔ innings. Nick Jessen, another Albany alum, gives the team additional depth. He appeared in 30 games over the past two seasons for the Danes.  Will McCarthy, who started 12 games last year and had a 2.98 ERA, may relinquish his starting role to the new additions and move to the bullpen.

11. Wisconsin-LaCrosse Eagles (34-10)
A strong second-half of the season powered the Eagles to a 36 wins which were the second-most in school history. Their victories earned them their first appearance in the national tournament since 2017 and included their fourth Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament title. After edging WIAC rival in Super Regional play, UWL advanced to the D-III World Series for the third time in school history. They were felled by Lynchburg and Salisbury in their opening games to have their season come to an end. The top three batters from last year’s team, and almost the entire pitching staff, will be back in action this spring which make the Eagles the favorite to win the competitive WIAC.

Second baseman Mac Born has already put together three spectacular seasons for the Eagles. He is the school’s career leader in home runs and RBI. Last season he batted .421 with 10 doubles and nine home runs. Anthony Vivian set the single season record for home runs last year with 19. He batted .355 and slugged .727. Third baseman Jack Oliver will be a fourth year starter on the team and hits at a ridiculously high rate. Over 109 games played he has a .410 career average and also has the ability to hit with power. He hit 13 home runs last season.  The team added Nate Witte from UW-Eau Claire in the offseason. He led the Blugolds with a .415 average in 2023 and a .391 finish in 2022. He also added 40 stolen bases over the two years. Additional strong seasons by George Seaman, who was second on the team with 13 home runs, and Jack Moran, who hit .347 with 20 stolen bases, would really make this team difficult to beat.

Isaiah Katz and Tyler Schmitt return as top pitchers who excelled as underclassmen last season. Katz led the team with 81 ⅓ innings in his first season on the team and struck out 76 batters while only issuing 18 walks. He finished with a 3.54 ERA. Schmitt had a 3.78 ERA over 64 ⅓ innings and threw a no-hitter against UW-Platteville. He also held opposition to a .207 average over 64 ⅓ innings. Owen Anderson and Owen Deprez also return. Each were regulars in the rotation and made a combined 22 starts. Anderson had a 4.59 ERA over 66 ⅔ innings and Deprez struck out 56 batters in 55 innings. Caleb Matl and Tucker Bouche are the top bullpen arms. Matl has made 42 appearances over the last three seasons. Over those outings he has struck out 107 batters in 93 ⅔ innings. Bouche led the team in ERA last season at 2.57. He only allowed 28 hits over 35 innings to limit opposition to a .212 average. 

12. Salisbury Seagulls (36-8)
The Gulls were the Perfect Game preseason pick to take home the title and spend much of last season as the top ranked team. They did fulfill their destiny of advancing to the College World Series for the third straight season, but were sent home early with two losses to ETBU. On the way to Cedar Rapids Salisbury earned their third consecutive Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference title and set new single season school records for home runs, doubles and total bases. Last year’s pole position ranking was due to the team having a number of experienced seniors playing their final year. This year’s roster is practically completely new. However their tradition of success has allowed them to recruit a number of elite players who should jump into starting roles and pay off immediate dividends. 

Leading hitter Danny Sheeler is one of the few familiar faces in the lineup. Fortunately, he’s been one of his team’s top players the last two seasons. In 2022 he was the team MVP and triple crown winner at Washington College. Last year he led Salisbury in batting at .393 while also tying for the team lead with 14 home runs. He was named the C2C Player of the Year and received All American honors as well. Ben Anderson and Zach Geesaman also return. Anderson hit .345 with 23 starts and made appearances in 35 games. Geesaman hit .297. The pair will trade catching and DH duties. Dom Frigiola will provide experience and leadership to the revamped roster. He batted .300 as the team’s second baseman last season.  Kyle Brex and Tim Petrucelli are two important transfers. Brex hit .372 over four seasons at Widener and played middle infield. Petrucelli spent two seasons at Morehead State before playing another pair at Penn State Abington. He hit .364 with 13 home runs last season. Another transfer, Dylan Winebrenner, hasn’t seen much playing time over the past two seasons at Iona and George Mason, but should earn immediate innings as well.  

Like the offense, the Salisbury pitching staff has a number of new faces. Tyler Villa and Benji Thalheimer give the rotation stability. Villa will likely be the team’s number one after throwing 32 ⅓ innings last season with 21 strikeouts in a dual role. He had a 2.78 ERA and held opposition to a .223 average. Thalheimer will be making his fourth season on the roster. While respectable last season, he had a 3.42 ERA over 73 ⅔ innings in 2022 and only allowed 56 hits over 73 ⅔ innings. Mitchell Wittkamp will also be back. He had appeared in 20 games over the last two seasons with seven starts. He has totaled 38 innings and accumulated a 3.79 ERA. Three new freshmen Aidan Brinsfield, Aiden Hankins and Cole Williams are expected to hit the ground running.

13. Salve Regina Seahawks (39-10-1)
The Seahawks advanced to a Regional final for the second straight season and were a win away from taking it a step further, but were outslugged by Misericordia. Nevertheless, SR set a program record for wins with a 39-10-1 record and were undefeated (20-0) in games played at home. They finished behind Endicott in the Commonwealth Coast Conference regular season standings as well as the conference tournament, but won’t get a chance to avenge the losses as they will play in the NEWMAC this spring. Or perhaps they will… The Seahawks have a stocked and talented roster which could meet the Gulls in a deep postseason run. 

Second baseman Christian Homa batted .472 last season with 75 hits which broke the school record held by the Seahawks Head Coach Eric Cirella. Homa also had 20 extra base hits and 22 walks for a .538 OB%. His partner in the middle infield, shortstop Michael Breen also returns.  Breen has a .306 batting average over three seasons at the plate and a .947 fielding percentage on defense. Graduate students Tyler Cannoe and Wil McCarthy play the corner infield positions. Cannoe is a slugging senior who led the team with eight home runs last season while hitting .295. McCarthy hit .339 with 12 extra base hits. Brandon Grover is a team leader and will be playing his third full season in centerfield. He hit .422 last season, stole ten bases and had 12 extra base hits. Matt D’Amato is another long time member of the team. He has a .340 average over 447 at bats.

Brayden Clark and Sean Mulligan top the starting staff. Clark has a 3.08 ERA over 155 innings accumulated over three years on the staff. He has struck out 161 batters in 155 innings while only allowing 139 hits. Mulligan had a 2.58 ERA in 52 ⅓ innings as a freshman. He only allowed 31 hits (.169 B/AVG) and stuck out 50 batters. Seven of his 16 appearances were starts last season. Joe DeRienzo and Nick Callano should pick up much of the remaining starts. DeRienzo only saw a couple of innings last year as a freshman. Callano started in nine of 10 appearances and had a 3.65 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 44 ⅓ innings. Andrew Wertz and Hayden Duke are transfers from DII schools with high ceilings. 

14. Christopher Newport Captains (33-11)
Last season the Captains made major accomplishments in all facets of the game. Their lineup had a .438 team OB%, the pitching staff held opposition to a .235 batting average and the defense made only 48 errors for a .970 fielding percentage. Additionally their 33-11 finish included the school’s 900th win. What they didn’t do however is advance past the first round of the NCAA postseason as they were eliminated for the second straight season in the regionals by a top-five team. With the overwhelming bulk of last year’s roster coming back, CNU has an excellent opportunity to advance to the DIII CWS for the first time since 2012. 

Outfielder Justin Stuffel led the team in batting with a .358 average as a freshman. His 43 hits included 11 for extra bases and he stole nine bases. Sophomore brothers Sam and Jake Benedict will rejoin Stuffel in the lineup. Sam, the team’s third baseman, batted .316 and had 11 sacrifice bunts. Jake batted .301 and only struck out 14 times in over 180 plate appearances. Zach Dzarnowksi earned 43 walks last season and batted .339 to compile a .517 OB%. At one point he reached base in 33 straight games. Scott Crosson is a fourth year starting senior. He batted leadoff and batted .323 with 11 doubles. Josh Reinhold  and Justin Kiakos play the middle infield for the Captains. Reinhold, another sophomore, reached base in all 42 games he played. He hit .344 and had a .962 fielding percentage at shortstop. Liakos hit .310 in 71 at bats with 10 extra base hits.  

Dylan Weber and Jackson Baird are two excellent arms to start the rotation. Weber is a graduate student who will be throwing his fifth year as a starter. He was the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year after striking out 103 batters in 75 ⅔ innings with a 3.45 ERA. He held opposition to a .209 batting average as he only allowed 58 hits. Baird had a 2.80 ERA and struck out 65 batters in 54 ⅔ innings while only allowing 38 walks (.199 B/AVG). It was his first season after transferring from George Mason. Brandon Cassedy  threw 42 ⅔ innings with five starts in 13 appearances. He struck out 48 batters and only walked 11. Jack Braley and Kyle Lewis were both excellent out of the bullpen. Braley had a 1.89 ERA over 47 ⅔ innings and Lewis struck out 44 batters in 30 ⅔ innings with a 2.05 ERA. David Elliott is expected to be the closer this season. Over the past two years he had a 1.92 ERA over 51 ⅔ innings while only allowing 39 hits with 65 strikeouts and only five walks. He also hit .336 in 2022 over 128 at bats. Collin D’Arby missed last season, but had a 1.46 ERA over 24 ⅔ innings in 2022.

15. Denison Big Red (36-10)
The Big Red had a big season in 2023 as they won both the North Coast Athletic Conference regular season title as well as the conference tournament. They did so with a perfect 19-0 record against NCAC competition to become just the second school in conference history to make the undefeated run.  While they added another pair of wins in the NCAA postseason, they couldn’t get past Baldwin Wallace who ended their season with a 36-10 overall record. The wins were the second most in a single season for the second year in a row. Denison’s obtainable goal should be to surpass that mark this season, as well as tack on a couple more. They have a very talented, yet still young group, with many top players returning to the roster. 

Centerfielder Eric Colaco started every game for the second season in a row. He hit safely in the first 28 games of the season to tie the program record and set a new single season stolen base mark with 38. For the year he hit .378 with 18 doubles and 10 home runs to earn NCAC Player of the Year honors. Jake Welsh has a .348 over three years in the outfield for the Big Red and hit 17 doubles. Owen Wilson has started nearly every game for the team the past two seasons at shortstop. He’s batted .282 in each of the years. Noah Leib led the team in batting last season with a .379 and led the team with a .663 slugging percentage. He had 18 doubles and eight home runs. He also had 39 walks to generate a .488 OB%.  Junior Jake Blozy, who led Oberlin in nearly every offensive category last season, has joined the team and will play in the outfield.

Nick Falter, Will Rettig and George Viebrock give the team a trio of solid starters. Falter led the team with a 2.54 ERA over 71 innings last season as a sophomore. He allowed 71 hits, 19 walks and struck out 57 batters to earn First Team All-NCAC honors. Rettig appeared in 16 games with 10 starts as a freshman. He had a 2.95 ERA and struck out 43 batters over 58 innings. Viebrock pitched primarily in relief but made four starts in 22 appearances. On the year he had a 3.83 ERA and struck out 49 batters in 49 innings. Robbie Lee is another arm expected to contribute big this season. He only pitched four innings last season, which was his first on the team. Freshman Peter Lemke is an athletic freshman who will see innings.

16. Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets (39-12)
The Yellow Jackets spent the entire 2023 season in the top ten of rankings as they made their first ever final four appearance while setting several team records. The senior laded team established a new school high for total games won, conference wins and winning percentage. While the offense largely led the charge last season, the pitching staff will power the team this spring. Five offensive players who started all 51 games last season graduated, and another two who played in at least 30 games also won’t be back. The pitching staff however, is nearly intact.  BW won’t have a problem challenging for another OAC title, but returning to the national finals will require the offense to reboot. 

Shortstop Sean Kolenich, who hit .406 last season as a sophomore, was one of the free big bats anticipated to be back in the lineup this year. He set the school single season hit record last season, but will miss 2024 as he recovers from injury.  Nick Clark was an instant success last season after transferring from Miami (OH). He batted .299 with a .432 OB% thanks to both 25 walks and 25 HBPs.  The athletic Joey Marousek transferred to the team from Akron, but he didn’t play baseball for the Zips, he was a quarterback on their football team for two seasons. Last year he batted .246 in 20 starts and has a lot of upside. Matt Terzola hit .295 as a freshman and provided excellent defense at second base. Brandon Gelphi, a former starter at UIC, played sparingly last season and should be a starter this spring. Transfers Mally Kilbane and Max Anastasio should give the offense a much needed spark in the middle of the lineup. Kilbane batted .404 in two seasons at Grove City College. Anastasio played four seasons at Oberlin and hit .292 last season. 

Garrett Miller and Kade Swisher will lead the pitching staff. Miller was an All-OAC First Team selection last season after he had a 3.84 ERA over 86 ⅔ innings. He struck out 77 batters and allowed 80 hits. Swisher led the pitching staff with a 3.66 ERA and threw a complete game in two of his three starts. Overall he pitched 32 innings and struck out 20 batters. Tyler Walker and Dylan Snyder will also start a significant number of games. Walker appeared in 12 games as a freshman and threw 29 ⅔ innings. Snyder made nine starts over 16 appearances, had a 4.17 ERA and totaled 65 innings on the season.  Aidan Bennett spent two seasons at FGCU before spending the last two at BW. In 12 2/3 innings of relief last year he only allowed six hits (.140 B/AVG) while striking out 20. Vince Dolcemaschio, another Oberlin transfer, gives the team depth. He made 17 starts over the past seasons for the Yeomen. 

17. Case Western Reserve Spartans (28-15)
The Spartans finished the 2023 regular season with a 27-13 record against one of the toughest schedules in DIII. That accomplishment was not lost on the postseason committee who awarded them with selection into the postseason. While the extended season didn’t last long (they went 1-2) it did give a young team some extra innings and experience headed into what should be a strong spring. CWRU returns almost the bulk of last year’s lineup which hit .329 as a team and deep pitching staff led by two accomplished starters. It would not be a surprise to see the Spartans play in the newly relocated DIII CWS right up the road from campus.   

Graduate catcher Jack Anderson was an All-American last season and the University Athletic Association Position Player of the Year as he set school records with 89 hits and 25 doubles – both of which were second nationally. He hit .468 and also had five triples and three home runs. He also threw out 16 potential base stealers while stealing 15 bases himself. He’s simply very good. Nick Harms tied the school record of 11 home runs and batted .337. He also had 19 doubles and a pair of triples to compile a .663 slugging percentage. Although he is only a junior, he’ll likely surpass the school home run record within the first month of the season.  Zack Carinci had a 32 game hitting streak and finished the year with a .356 average.  He also added 15 doubles and 14 stolen bases. Second baseman Jasiah Harris hit .329 as a freshman and has an 18-game hitting streak headed into the season. Graduate transfer Dane Camphausen gives the team some extra oomph in the middle of the lineup. He hit .378 with 10 home runs last season at Wooster. Incoming freshman Tyler Stillson is an excellent athlete who will contribute both offensively and on the mound. 

Reece Marley and Kyle Gearding are a pair of proven starters who’ll keep opposing offenses off the scoreboard. Marley struck out 78 batters in 70 innings while issuing only 22 walks with 65 hits. Over his three year career opposition is only batting .248 against him with just three home runs in 157 innings. Gearding had a team best 3.31 ERA and struck out 51 batters in 54 ⅓ innings. Only 12 of his 60 hits allowed were for extra bases. Patrick O’Connor, who somehow even looks more Irish than his name implies, had a 2.80 ERA over 35 ⅓ innings of relief. He also struck out 34 batters and held opposition to a .225 average. Austin McGowan had a 4.50 ERA over 30 innings as a freshman. Senior closer Tyler Horvath has limited opposing teams to just 61 hits over 91 ⅓ innings over his three years on the mound. During those outings he struck out 104 batters. He was the conference co-pitcher of the year in 2022.

18. Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks (30-13)
The perennial power from the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference had a solid 30-13 record in 2023 and advanced to the WIAC title games, but didn’t earn an invite into the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2007. Their omission should give the team extra incentive headed into the new season. They return four First Team All-WIAC players, one of which was the conference’s player of the year. Look for UWW to not only earn their way into the postseason, but penetrate deep into it as well.

Adam Cootway was the WIAC Position Player of the Year, the school’s fourth player to receive the honor over the past six seasons. He batted .477 with an additional 32 BB/HBPs to generate a .560 OB%. He had 13 doubles, five triples and 15 home runs. In one game he hit for the cycle with an extra home run. Matt Scolan has hit .349 in his first two years with the team. He was second on the team with 10 home runs last year and added eight stolen bases. Sam Paden hit .476 in 105 at bats with 17 extra base hits. He also appeared in eight games on the mound with two starts and three saves. Eli Frank also does double-duty for the Warhawks. He hit home runs in two of his ten at bats and appeared in 16 games on the mound with a 3.81 ERA. Alex Najera and Bennet Frazer are also likely to put up strong numbers. Najera hit .348 in his first season as a sophomore, and Frazer has made 71 starts over the past two seasons. He hit .344 with 15 stolen bases in 2022. 

Two seniors, Cade Berendt, and Max Huseboe, will get the lion’s share of innings on the mound. Berendt earned All-WIAC honors each of his first two seasons. At UWW he has thrown 122 ⅔ innings with 143 strikeouts. He has held batters to a .261 average and only allowed 28 total walks. Huseboe has pitched sparingly his first two seasons, but was an integral part of the staff last year. He appeared in 16 games with five starts. He averaged a strikeout per inning over 42 and finished with a 4.07 ERA.

19. Birmingham-Southern Panthers (39-11)
The Panthers have once again proved to be one of DIII’s elite programs after going a combined 80-21 over the past two seasons. They have however, been unable to return to the CWS after finishing as the national runner-up in 2019. They had their season come to a close last year against a determined La Verne team. They did nevertheless have a strong season as they spent a chunk of the year as the top ranked team, won the Southern Athletic Association regular season crown as well as their fourth straight SAA tournament title. BSC will be without a number of key contributors from last season, but the Panthers are one of the few DIII teams which can annually attract top transfers to rebuild quickly. If the team is going to challenge again nationally it will be on the shoulders of the deep and talented pitching staff.

Ian Hancock was a First Team All-SAA selection for the second season and started all 50 games last season. He led the conference with 16 home runs and ended the year with a .305 average. In 2022 he hit .356 with 16 home runs as well. First baseman Jackson Webster led the team in batting last season with a .368 average with 10 doubles and eight home runs. Andrew Dutton also returns after hitting .273 with a team leading 14 doubles. In 2022 he led the team in batting with a .396 average and finished in the top ten in OBP, OPS and RBI.  Eli Steadman, who went to high school in the area, batted .282 last season and .317 in 41 at bats in 2022.  

Few teams are as fortunate as BSC to have a pair of pitchers the caliber of Josh Leerssen and Hansen McCown. Leerssen had a breakout season in which he had a 2.74 ERA and struck out 87 batters in 75 ⅔ innings. He limited opponents to 60 hits for a .217 average. McCown struck out 72 batters in only 58 innings.. His 2.38 ERA led the team and he only allowed 35 hits (.168 B/AVG) and issued 15 walks. He was named the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Pitcher of the Year and the SAA Pitcher of the Year. Carter Tyus will be pitching his third season as a starter for the Panthers. He threw 38 innings last year with 32 strikeouts. In 2022 he had a 3.03 ERA. Hayden Sottile and Drake LaRoche are newcomers expected to contribute on the mound. Sottile is a freshman who received very high grades from scouts in high school. LaRoche has a very high baseball IQ and had a 3.23 ERA last season at Lawson State CC and threw 75 ⅓ innings for the Cougars.  His father is former MLB star Adam LaRoche. 

20. Aurora Spartans (42-6)
Aurora captured both the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference regular season and tournament titles. They earned host duties for the NCAA Regionals and swept Ohio Athletic Conference winners John Carroll to move a step away from advancing to the College World Series. Unfortunately their record setting season came to an end at the hands of Baldwin Wallace.  They finished with a 42-6 record which set a new program high. Offensively the Spartans will need help from underclassmen and transfers as three of their top run producers graduated. They do however have the benefit of a talented trio of starting pitchers which should keep them elite this spring. 

The offense is in the hands of Nico Bermeo and Dominck Curcio. Bermeo, a junior shortstop from Bogota, Columbia, earned conference honors last season after hitting .340 with 14 doubles and seven home runs. This will be his fourth season as a starter. Curcio hit .331 as a sophomore with a .466 OB%. Tyler Patton and Derek Angelo are expected to help lead the revamped offense. Patton batted .317 in 63 at bats as a freshman. Angelo earned honors at Elgin CC before joining the Spartans last season. He hit .288 in 25 games.  Nick Czarnecki, a transfer outfielder from Monmouth, Brayden Gorecki from Illinois Springfield, and Logan Riley, another Elgin CC alum have an opportunity to play right away. 

Jack Fisher and Justin Zimmerman should keep Aurora near the top of the NACC standings. Fisher earned All-American honors and was the Region 8 Pitcher of the Year after a season in which he tied the AU single season strikeout record with 104 in 88 innings pitched. He only allowed 76 hits and 15 walks for a 1.03 WHIP. He also threw four complete games. Zimmerman led the team with a 3.32 ERA over 78 ⅔ innings. He was honored as the NACC Pitcher of the Year as he struck out 86 batters across 13 starts. CJ Cazares was not as prolific as Fisher and Zimmerman, but showed promise as a freshman. He threw in 12 games with a start and will likely be in the rotation this spring. UW Whitewater transfer Joey Pettit should see a number of starts as well.

21. Montclair State Red Hawks (26-11)
The Red Hawks were a sleeper pick in the Perfect Game rankings last season and started the year 14-2, but struggled in the middle of the season. They also had a disappointing performance in the New Jersey Athletic Conference to finish 26-11, and without an at-large invite to the NCAA postseason. The team has another year of experience and returns eight of nine everyday players along with three-quarters for their starting pitchers. MSU will compete for the NJAC title and should have no problem earning an invite to the extended postseason this spring. 

Graduate first baseman Sam Angelo was the NJAC Player of the Year after leading the team with a .457 average, 17 doubles and 13 triples. He earned 42 walks to amass a .578 OB% and even stole five bases. He hit for the cycle and finished last season on a 19-game hitting streak. Miles Feaster is a fifth year starter at second base. He raised his average from .384 to .405 last season and stole 19 bases. Reece Malek and Jason Moore, another pair of graduate students, complete the infield. Malek batted .308 and stole 12 bases. Moore started all 37 as shortstop and batted .305 with 13 extra base hits.  Ryan Mckenna was third on the team with a .390 average and second with six home runs.  Joe Gisonda, who hit .448 in 58 at bats also returns. Transfer Marcus Johnson hit .440 last season at Brookdale JC with 13 home runs. 

Patrick Cuccurullo, yet another graduate student on the team, only made five starts last season, but had a 2.79 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 77 ⅓ innings in 2022.  He’ll be rejoined in the rotation by Michael Timberlake and Matt Pontari. Timberlake led the team in ERA as a freshman at 3.03. He pitched 32 ⅔ innings and allowed 23 hits (.202 B/AVG) with 33 strikeouts. Pontari led the Red Hawks in innings last season with 45 2/3. He only allowed 34 hits while striking out 49 batters. Seven of his 11 appearances were starts. Jack Haveson should see several innings as a starter this year as well. He has appeared in 37 games over the past three seasons and struck out 83 batters in 79 ⅓ innings. Evan Wood provides added depth to the staff. He was the top pitcher for Alvernia last year. He had a 3.12 ERA over 60 ⅔ innings and was the MAC Commonwealth Rookie of the Year and a First Team All-MAC selection as a freshman.

22. La Verne Leopards (30-12-1)
After winning the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season, the Leopards struggled in the conference tournament, but still received an invite to the NCAA postseason. They were shipped across the country to Birmingham, Alabama for the opening round where they earned wins over each team, including the host BSC in the title game to advance to a Super Regional. In Texas the Leopards were a win away from making their first appearance at the DIII College World Series since 1995 when they won the national title, but couldn’t hold off the ETBU Tigers.  Much of their offense is back this year, along with one of the top starting pitchers in the nation. While the staff is deep, it could use an arm or two to break out and for some additional quality starts.

Noah Garcia and Nate Perry are the team’s top run producers. Garcia struggled at Willamette where he started his college career, but blossomed last season. He led the team with a .374 batting average and hit 10 doubles, five triples and three home runs.  Perry batted .364 with 13 extra base hits as a freshman catcher.  Anthony Salcedo will be playing his fifth year on the team and has a .295 average headed into the season. He has stolen 33 bases over the past two years and often bats leadoff. Centerfielder Matthew Diaz emerged to hit .325 in his first full season and Benny Vogel not only batted .320 in 100 at bats, he was the team’s top reliever.  Logan Reese batted .314 and led the team with seven triples and four home runs.

Jerry Terry was the SCIAC Pitcher of the Year. In 101 innings last season he struck out 124 batters while only allowing 76 hits and 24 walks. In a game against CalTech he pitched 8 ⅓ innings of one hit baseball and struck out 19 batters. Ethan Galindo made 20 appearances with 14 starts. He threw 69 innings last spring, but gave up 82 hits and walked more batters than he struck out. Garret Halbeisen appeared in 11 games and kept runs from scoring with a 2.81 ERA. Ian Wong and Chase Pederson appeared in a combined 54 games, but had 6.35 and 7.61 ERAs respectively. The aforementioned reliever Vogel was third on the team in innings despite throwing almost exclusively out of the bullpen. He struck out 53 batters in 59 ⅓ innings and had a 4.10 ERA. 

23. Benedictine Eagles (30-14)
The Eagles finished last season with a 30-14 record and were behind only Aurora in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference regular season and tournament.  It was their first time recording 30 wins in ten years. Alas, they were not selected for the NCAA postseason despite a strong showing against regionally ranked opposition. It will be hard to overlook the Eagles this year as they have a good chance to usurp the NACC from Aurora. A title would be their first regular season or tournament championship since 2008. They have tremendous depth on both sides of the ball and will likely have their best season yet under Head Coach Adam Smith.

Catcher Logan Gregorio batted .390 as a freshman and hit a conference leading 18 doubles with eight home runs. He has a 28-game hitting streak headed into the new season. Ryan Doubek, the team’s second baseman and leadoff hitter, batted .369 last season – his third on the team. He also added 16 stolen bases and pushed his OB% up to .463 with 35 BB/HBPs. Kevin Bushnell, like Doubek, is a graduate student and experienced member of the team. He has a .331 career average over 125 games played and can hit with power. He hit 17 home runs in 2021. Senior Peter Turelli batted .337 last year and should be back out on the diamond at shortstop. Brennan Fisher hit .291 and also threw 31 ⅓ innings on the mound in which he struck out 41 batters and only allowed 22 hits. Austin Affrunti, a transfer from St. Leo, and DeShawnte from Claflin, are transfers who’ll add depth to the lineup. 

Nick Kosmetatos and Jackson Bahn were both excellent as starters last season. They each started 10 games and had a sub-3.00 ERAs. Kosmetatos is still developing as a pitcher as he was recruited as an infielder to play at Butler. In his first season as a pitcher he threw 62 innings and only allowed 51 hits (.220 B/AVG). Bahn struck out 78 batters in only 55 ⅔ innings while only giving up 44 hits. Andrew Kurcz, a graduate student, was much improved last season. He lowered his ERA to 4.55 and made 12 appearances which included seven starts. Senior Nick Shelton emerged to be a stopper in the bullpen. He had a 3.19 ERA and struck out 26 in 31 innings of relief.  

24. Washington Bears (26-14)
The Bears had a solid season up until late April. They had quality non-conference series wins over Luther and Gustavus Adolphus and split series with Case Western and UW-Stevens Point. However to close the year they lost six of their last seven which included getting shut out twice and a pair of lopsided ten run defeats. With the addition of Assistant Coach Cameron McMullen, who helped Chapman win the title in 2019, Washington should look more like that team that crushed Dubuque in their final game 20-0. They have a deep, experienced roster and much more resemble the teams from 2016-2021 which won three UAA titles and finished third at the DIII CWS than last year’s edition.

Clayton Miller will be playing his fourth year as a starter for the Bears. He batted .324 last season and led the team with 10 doubles and eight home runs. He can also pitch. He struck out 41 batters in 40 ⅓ innings in 2022 and made eight starts. Junior outfielder Brandon Buday led the team in batting at .355 and stole 18 bases. He also had six doubles and five triples. Shane Pellegrino earned All-UAA honors as a freshman last season. His .353 average was second highest on the team and he had 12 extra base hits and 14 stolen bases. Catcher Braden Mazone hit .348 in his first full season – a substantial jump from his .179 mark in limited action in 2022. Kaden Bernhard, who went to high school in Thailand, hit .333 with ten stolen bases. Magnus Dunn hit .318 in 85 at bats and stole a team leading 21 bases. 

Pitching is solid with three experienced arms to lead the staff. Will Henkel had a 2.97 ERA and struck out 66 batters in 63 ⅔ innings. He held opposition to a .242 average and only issued 19 walks. Matt Lopes is a graduate student playing his sixth season on the team.  He had his best season in 2023 with a 4.22 ERA over 59 ⅔ innings. Sebastian Guzman has been a starter the last two seasons. In 98 ⅔ total innings he has struck out 91 batters. Miles Quemuel-Labrador and Hank Weiss are solid options out of the WashU bullpen. Quemuel-Labrador threw 24 innings as a freshman and had a 3.75 ERA. Weiss only allowed nine hits in 19 innings (.136 B/AVG) with 32 strikeouts.  

25. Buena Vista Beavers (31-11)
The Beavers looked strong headed into the postseason in 2023. They won the American Rivers Conference regular and closed out the regular seasons with a walk-off pinch-hit mercy-rule win. Alas BVU struggled in the ARC tournament, going 1-2, but still received an at-large invite to the NCAA Regionals. However their season came to an abrupt close as they lost twice to Bethel, a team which they had earned a series win over earlier in the year.  They closed the season at 31-11, but should be better this season. The Beavers return ten All-Conference players and also return a top pitcher who sat out the season due to injury.

Jordan Mathewson and Joel Garcia provide the team with top-notch offense at the plate and stellar defense in the middle infield. Mathewson is a fifth-year senior who led the team with a .413 batting average last year. He had 21 extra base hits, 16 stolen bases and nearly set the school’s single season hit record. Garcia hit .322 with 12 extra base hits and made just nine errors Zack Beekmann had his best season last spring with a .346 average and team high seven home runs. His .635 slugging percentage also led the team. Twins Evan and Drew Taylor are also important members of the team. Evan is the team’s catcher and hit .310 with five home runs. Drew batted .371 with 19 extra base hits. Rejoining Drew in the outfield will be Calvin Harris and Tegan Bock. Harris hit .352 with 13 doubles. He also made 12 relief appearances on the mound. Bock batted .298 as a freshman after spending a season at South Dakota State on their track and field team. 

Morgan Smith led the conference with 83 ⅔ innings and had a 3.33 ERA. He also led the ARC in strikeouts with 72 and only walked 16 batters. Mark Eddie made 13 starts in 2022 and threw 64 innings with 79 strikeouts, but only threw one inning in a single appearance last year due to injury. Mason Gehling is a fifth year senior who received First Team All-ARC honors in 2022 and has struck out 154 batters in 147 career innings. Freshman Ean McDaniel has the moxie to make the rotation as a freshman. Logan Lape-Brinkman joins utility player Harris as the top arms out of the bullpen. Lape-Brinkman allowed seven runs over 23 ⅓ innings for a 1.93 ERA as a freshman. 

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