Eastern Connecticut State earned the school’s fifth national championship last season as they finished with a spectacular 49-3 record and 23 consecutive victories. The Warriors’ wins and winning percentage established new program records, and the streak of wins tied the school’s all-time best. Accomplishing the task again won’t be easy. ECSU’s title winning starting lineup and regular pitching rotation was primarily composed of seniors and graduate players who played their last game in Cedar Rapids. While a number of excellent players will be returning this season, the team is unquestionably reloading which opens the door for another team to spill into the Iowa infield once the final out is made this season.
The team most likely to take home the title this year has done it before, Salisbury University. The Sea Gulls brought home the championship trophy two years ago, and were the last team eliminated in 2022. Head Coach Troy Brohawn welcomes back much of last year’s roster, including 26 players from last season, and nearly 20 who helped earn the title in 2021. They have All-American caliber athletes back in the everyday lineup, as well as on the pitching staff, who will be craving to relive the emotion of hoisting the title high in jubilation, and erasing the memory of watching another team celebrate instead.
As good as the Gulls are, every team on this list has the ability to win it all. Each has their own strengths, which if given the right circumstances, could propel them into the history books as the 2023 National Champion.
|2||Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets||OH||37-13|
|6||UW-Stevens Point Pointers||WI||42-10|
|11||North Central Cardinals||IL||35-14|
|17||East Texas Baptist Tigers||TX||33-13|
|19||Christopher Newport Captains||VA||27-14|
|21||Eastern Connecticut Warriors||CT||49-3|
|23||Montclair State Red Hawks||NJ||31-13|
1. SALISBURY SEA GULLS (39-12)
The Sea Gulls won their first DIII national championship in 2021 with a 34-4 record, and nearly won another title last season after they earned their second straight Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference championship and another trip to Cedar Rapids. SU won their first three games at the DIII College World Series to advance to the finals, but fell twice to Eastern Connecticut State. The Gulls’ 39 wins were the second-most in program history and they became the first team to make back-to-back appearances in the DIII championship series in a decade. This season Salisbury are seeking to become the first team to advance to three consecutive DIII College World Series finals since St. Thomas (Minn.) accomplished the feat in 1999-2001. With much of the team returning once again, the Sea Gulls appear up to the task and are the unquestionable preseason favorite to win this year’s title.
Senior center fielder Kavi Caster was named the C2C Player of the Year and an All-American after a sensational season in which he batted .411 with 12 home runs and 30 stolen bases. He also had 47 walks and 11 HBPs to compile a .544 OB%. Rejoining Caster in the speedy SU outfield is Cameron Hyder. Hyder hit .389 with 19 doubles and 20 stolen bases. He only struck out five times in 216 at bats and added 11 sacrifice hits. Stephen Rice and Jacob Ference return to play the important shortstop and catcher positions. Rice earned accolades for his defense as he received the first ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove in SU history, while also contributing greatly at the plate. He batted .346 with six home runs, was hit by a pitch 25 times to help fuel a .465 OB% and stole 15 bases. Ference threw out 10 of 19 attempted base stealers and has hit as high as .356 in a season. Danny Sheeler transferred from Washington College where he slashed .389/.450/.653 and should take over as the team’s every day first baseman and hit in the heart of the lineup.
Three of four starting pitchers from last season, spearheaded by All-American Jimmy Adkins. Adkins is making his fifth season as a starter and has steadily improved each season. Last year had a 1.87 ERA over 91 ⅔ innings while striking out 87 with only 68 hits allowed. Jackson Balzan and Benji Thalheimer both made at least 12 starts on the mound last spring. Balzan has a career 19-4 record headed into the season with 196 strikeouts and 166 innings. Last season he had a 2.45 ERA and held opposition to a .216 average. Thalheimer was the conference pitcher of the week twice last season, had a 3.42 ERA, and only allowed 56 hits in 73 ⅔ innings. As good as they are, sophomore Mitchell Wittkamp may have the highest ceiling of any of the starting arms. He appeared in 11 games last season which included four starts and had a 3.18 ERA. Brock Hilligoss, who had a 1.05 ERA in 28 ⅓ relief innings, will be the team’s closer.
2. BALDWIN WALLACE YELLOW JACKETS (37-13)
Balwin Wallace advanced to their second-ever DIII World Series under Head Coach Brian Harrison, who also led the team to the finals in 2014. The Yellow Jackets lost both their games in Cedar Rapids, but did finish as the winningest team in program history. The club was especially accomplished on offense where they set school records in multiple categories including hits, runs and home runs. The offense will continue to sting this spring, and the pitching staff, which was pretty formidable in its own right, should be even better this year.
Slugging senior Luke Vonderhaar set school records in home runs with 19 and RBI at 69 as he led the team with a .711 slugging percentage which was third in the Ohio Athletic Conference. His batting average was .340 and he nearly had as many HBPs (15) as strikeouts (16). Mark Mohnickey added nine home runs in only 92 at bats to finish second on the team in slugging percentage at .641. A full year from him will result in a lot of balls being lost over the fence. Second baseman Ryan Guggenheim was second on the team with a .372 average with 17 doubles. Shortstop Sean Kolenich started every game as a freshman and batted .317 with six home runs. Centerfielder Vincent Capolupo and catcher JT Mazula also star both on offense and defense. Capolupo led the team with a .392 batting average and 16 stolen bases. Mazula hit .289 and threw out six of 13 attempted base stealers.
Dawson Gabe made 16 appearances with 14 starts in which struck out a team and conference leading 89 batters in 75 ⅔ innings. His 3.57 ERA was second on the team. Nik Baldis finished the year with a 2.25 ERA in a dual role, but should see more starts this spring. Dylan Snyder was limited to six games last season, but impressed when he was on the mound. He held opposition to a .225 batting average with a 3.86 ERA. Aidan Bennett, a 6’6” senior who started his college career at Florida Gulf Coast, struck out 42 batters in 31 ⅔ innings last season, will see a number of starts this year.
3. BIRMINGHAM-SOUTHERN PANTHERS (41-10)
In addition to dominating the Southern Athletic Association regular season and tournaments, the Panthers earned their second 40+ win season and Super Regional invite of their DIII era. Alas BSC couldn’t get by Trinity. In a battle of feline mascots the Tigers handed the Panthers three of their 10 losses in 2022, including two in a series in which the winner advanced to Cedar Rapids and the DIII CWS. Almost the entire everyday lineup is back in 2023, and is highlighted by a pair of All-Americans. The team also returns a slew of talented young pitching arms who should be even more dominating this spring.
Noah Best and Ian Hancock lead the lineup. Best, the team’s shortstop, batted .371 with 14 home runs and successfully stole 29 of 32 bases. Hancock hit .356 with 16 home runs in his second season as a starter, and will primarily be the DH. Second baseman Andrew Dutton topped the team in batting last season with a .396 average as a sophomore. Jack Fleming will be playing his fifth season at BSC at catcher. He batted .300 in 2022 with 12 home runs. Third baseman Will Lantis was a perfect 38 for 38 in stolen bases and hit .370.
Joey White has a phenomenal season as a freshman. He had a perfect 8-0 record and earned a 3.76 ERA while holding opposition to a .235 batting average. A few erratic innings spiked Josh Leerssen’s ERA, but when he is in form and in control, he completely dominates opposition. He struck out 69 batters in 53 ⅔ innings last season while only allowing 43 hits. Ricky Harrison will be making his third season as a starter on the mound. Last year he made nine starts and had a 4.50 ERA over 44 innings. Freshman Charlie Horne, or Davis Williams who primarily threw out of the bullpen, should complete the rotation. Local high school product Connor Adams led the team with a 1.88 ERA over 43 innings last season in which he struck out 44 batters while only allowing 32 hits. He will be called upon to close games this year as the closer.
4. LAGRANGE PANTHERS (44-9)
The Panthers had an emotional 2022 season in which two of their freshman players died in an auto accident when the driver of a different vehicle attempted to make an improper pass. The tragic incident occurred following the Panthers capturing the USA South Tournament and they made the difficult decision to continue playing. LaGrange went on to win its first NCAA regional and Super Regional, and advanced to the DIII College World Series. The Panthers played well and established a new school record with 44 wins, but were eliminated by eventual champion Eastern Connecticut State. LaGrange returns the bulk of the everyday lineup and several integral arms which will make them a favorite to play in Cedar Rapids once again.
Joe Ruth was the USA South Player of the Year and earned All-American honors after batting .443 with an NCAA DIII record 109 hits. He started all 53 games at third base, had 36 multiple hit games and finished with a .671 slugging percentage. He will be back to lead the offense along with Jared Aldridge and Gabriel Pallo. Aldridge split time as catcher and DH and batted .355 with four home runs. Pallo batted .322 in his first full season in the outfield. Adam Dorn and Jackson McElby are other players who will help propel the offense this spring. Dorn batted .319 and is the team’s shortstop. McElvy is a talented freshman who can play anywhere on the diamond including pitcher.
Baley Coleman will once again lead the pitching staff. Over the past two seasons has a 19-5 record and struck out 164 batters in 179 /3 innings. His ERA was 3.41. Dalton Brooks and Ethan Fry are also experienced starters who will be back on the mound. Brooks made 16 starts last year and had 83 strikeouts in 90 innings. Six of Fry’s 11 appearances were starts last season and he struck out 32 batters in 32 ⅓ innings. Senior Ethan Kramer, who started his college career at Florida Atlantic, will be back in the bullpen. He earned seven saves in 20 appearances last year.
5. ROWAN PROFS (33-10)
The Profs earned the New Jersey Athletic Conference regular season crown with a 15-2 record, but were bounced early from the NJAC tournament. Nevertheless, Rowan came back to earn three straight wins in regional play for an opportunity to make their second straight trip to the DII College World Series. The Profs were paired against top ranked ECSU and were battling the Warriors in extra innings with their season on the line when a bases loaded HBP allowed ECSU to take the lead, win the game and eliminate Rowan. Much of last year’s offense is back on campus this season and the pitching staff has been infused with some exciting transfers which should make them stronger and deeper this season.
Ryan Murphy has batted .382 over the past seasons in the Prof’s outfield. Last year he also hit five triples and nine home runs to slug .636 on the year. Third baseman Anthony Schooley hit .372 in his first season with the team after transferring from Villanova. He also topped the team with 20 doubles. Tyler Cannon, the club’s leadoff hitter, is also back. The second baseman batted .354 and tied for the team lead with 11 stolen bases. DH Patrick Defeciani who hit .338, and Chris Curcio, the team’s smooth fielding All-Conference First Team shortstop, are also back.
Zach Grace spent two seasons at Iona and another at Wake Forest. He has joined the team and will likely be the club’s number one pitcher. Other DI transfers who will likely work their way into the rotation include Matt Choi who spent time at Monmouth, and Nick Hammer who spent time at James Madison and La Salle. Jason O’Neill is a returner from last year’s rotation who will be back on the mound. Last season he had a 3.58 ERA and was credited with an 8-3 record. Christian Bascunan had a 2.45 ERA out of the bullpen last spring and earned 10 saves. He will be back again to close games.
6. UW-STEVENS POINT POINTERS (42-10)
The Pointers finished behind rival UW-Whitewater in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season standings, but rolled through the WIAC tournament to win the school’s 12th tournament title. In the regionals UWSP put up crazy insane offensive numbers to advance to the Super Regional. In three games the Pointers outscored opposition 58-16 and broke the school record for runs in a game (27) and runs in an inning (14) – amazingly those records were in two different games. When facing UWW in the Super Regional, they swept the Warhawks to advance to their sixth DIII College World Series. The Pointers played well in Iowa, but fell short of the title. They finished with 42 wins which set a program record. Two major contributors to the Pointers’ everyday lineup will need to be replaced, as well as a starting pitcher, but more than enough remains for another title run.
Center fielder Payton Nelson and third baseman Bradley Comer are top offensive threats returning to the roster. Nelson batted .350, hit 10 home runs and stole 16 bases. Comer put up similar numbers as he batted .341 with 10 home runs and stole 16 bases. Despite being a freshman, catcher Anthony Tomczak led the team in batting average at .379 and will once again be behind the plate. Another important defensive performer back is senior shortstop Logan Matson who hit .306 with eight home runs. Matt Baumann and Jakob Boos provide the clubs with yet two more experienced players who hit over .300 last season.
The pitching staff doesn’t dominate statistically, but they do get outs when the team needs them. Casey Pickering and JD Schultz each started at least 11 games and will be back to pitch again. Pickering threw 71 innings and had a 4.82 ERA with two complete games. Schultz struck out 60 batters in 58 ⅔ innings. More impressive numbers were compiled by the Pointers’ deep pitching staff. Nathan Krommenakker struck out 22 batters in 22 ⅓ innings with a 3.38 ERA and Austin Syvertson had a 3.67 ERA and struck out 37 batters in 34 ⅓. The Pointers top pitcher is closer Sidney Ferry. Over the past two seasons Ferry has appeared in 39 games in relief and earned a slim 1.70 ERA and held opposition to a .194 batting average. In 69 innings he has struck out 73 batters and only issued eight walks.
7. SHENANDOAH HORNETS (37-12-1)
The Hornets finished second in the competitive Old Dominion Athletic Conference regular season, but swept through the ODAC postseason to earn their fourth title in nine seasons and the opportunity to host an opening round of the NCAA DIII Baseball Tournament for the first time in school history. SU earned three wins, but were beaten twice by Catholic to have their season home to a close. While they will be without one of their top starting pitchers from last season, the rest of the roster returns, as well as an All-American athlete who missed last year. The Hornets look to have one of their best teams ever under long-time Head Coach Kevin Anderson and are on the short list of schools with the ability to make a run to Cedar Rapids.
Pearce Bucher and Kyle Lisa swing the team’s top bats. Bucher is a doctor of physical therapy graduate student looking to end his career on a high note. He started every game and hit a team high .397 last season with 16 doubles and seven home runs. Second baseman Lisa topped the team in home runs with 12 and batted .320. He’s also made 16 appearances on the mound over the last two years where he has earned a 1.84 ERA. Frankie Ritter may be the team’s overall MVP. In addition to batting .361 last season he played devine defense at shortstop with only six errors in 252 chances. He also added 23 stolen bases and only struck out 16 times in 219 at bats. Also returning is Gavin Horning who hit .402 last season in 132 at bats and sometimes sports an old timey mustache. Colby Martin missed last season due to injury, but was the ODAC Player of the Year in 2021 when he batted .482 with 29 extra base hits and 25 stolen bases.
Jacob Faivre and Reilly Owen are the Hornets’ top two seasoned starting pitchers and will be relied on tremendously to consume quality innings. Faivre threw 71 innings last season and struck out 62 batters with a 4.31 ERA. Coming into this season he has been credited with a 14-1 overall record. Like Faivre, Owen is an experienced senior pitcher. In 2022 had a 4.76 ERA over 68 innings. Matt House struck out 15 batters over 17 ⅓ innings last season and earned eight saves in 18 appearances. He’ll be back in the bullpen along with Colby Martin who had three saves and 13 strikeouts in 7 ⅔ innings in ‘21. Jacob Bell, who struck out 34 batters in 28 ⅔ innings last season, and Tristan Evertt who had a 3.93 ERA in 12 relief appearances, will likely see a number of innings in middle relief.
8. ARCADIA KNIGHTS (40-9)
The Knights had their best season in school history last year as they set a new program record for wins at 40 which bested the previous mark by seven. They finished their conference regular season with an impressive 19-2 record and took the scenic route in winning the Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom tournament title by losing the first game, but responding to win the remainder of the rest. The Knights earned two quick wins in regional play, but then lost a pair to Oswego to have their season come to an unsatisfactory close. The team’s top three offensive players from last season are back and the pitching staff is nearly intact. AU coaches believe they’ve supplemented their veteran laden team with the proper pieces to make another strong College World Series run.
Shortstop Alex Madera was the MAC Freedom Player of the Year and earned a number of regional awards after batting .464, compiling a .554 OB% and stealing 38 stolen bases. His partner in the infield, second baseman Justin Massielo, hit .383 with 16 doubles and 12 stolen bases. Hunter Curley, who DH’s when he is not on the mound, batted .308 with 25 stolen bases. Anthony Bruno, a transfer from Mercer County CC, and Mike Bukowski, a catcher who hit .303 at Washington College, should pay immediate dividends.
The Knights have a solid, experienced pitching staff which should keep opposition off the basepaths. Hunter Sibley had a 3.97 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 77 innings after transferring from Iona. The aforementioned Curley made 12 starts, threw three completed games and had a 3.92 ERA over 62 innings. Nick Fossile made 11 starts and finished with a 3.23 ERA. None of the trio blew opposition away, but they kept the ball in the park and games close. Carson Denham was a reliever last season and may switch to a starting role. He struck out 33 batters in 26 ⅔ innings and had a 2.36 ERA. Zach Steiger has put together two solid seasons on the mound and will likely be called upon to close games.
9. ENDICOTT GULLS (40-10)
The Gulls advanced to the Super Regionals for the first time in school history, but were bested by Baldwin Wallace to have their season come to a close. Despite the losses to the Yellow Jackets, it was a memorable season for Endicott. They finished with the most wins in school history, besting the previous mark by five, won the Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament (their first title since 2014) and finished a sliver behind Salve Regina in the CCC regular season. Almost every player responsible for those accomplishments is back this season.
Center fielder Caleb Shpur was named the CCC Player of the Year after batting .348 with 11 home runs and 14 stolen bases. Other noteworthy returners include Nic Notarangelo, John Mulready and Dylan Pacheo who each excelled in their first full seasons of play. Notarangelo earned conference and region honors after batting .347 with 15 doubles and a team leading 13 home runs. Mulready batted .340 with 12 home runs as the catcher, and Pacheco topped the team in hitting at .366 with a .628 slugging percentage. Joey Frammartino, an outfielder who spent time at Central Connecticut State and Austin Peay, has joined the team and should make an immediate impact. Danny MacDouglass is another former DI player looking to get some more playing time and has joined the Gulls.
The three primary starting pitchers are Rian Schwede, Gabe Van Emon and Nicholas Cannata. Schwede made 11 starts and earned a 3.94 ERA. In 61 ⅔ innings he struck out 48 batters while only allowing nine walks. Van Emon held opposition to a .179 batting average while striking out 87 batters in 72 /3 innings. Cannata had a 2.93 ERA, completed three of 12 starts and held opposition to a .186 batting average. Senior Max Tarlin, who earned seven saves and a 2.79 ERA last season, is set to be the closer once again.
10. WEBSTER GORLOKS (38-8)
The Gorloks have been bullies of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference under Head Coach Bill Kurich and rarely allow any other team to win titles. Last season Webster won their 15th consecutive SLIAC regular season title and earned their 12th conference tournament crown overall which was their fourth straight. The Groloks have also been selfishly hogging invites to the DIII World Series as well over the past decade as they’ve taken four of them since 2012. Webster will be looking to keep more titles to themselves this season with a talented bunch back from a team which finished 38-8 in 2022. Their quality and experience make them a favorite to make the trip up to Cedar Rapids.
Evan Evola led the team in batting as a freshman at .409. In addition to his high average, he slugged .671 thanks to 15 doubles and eight home runs. Parker Wielt and Ben Swords handle the infield corner positions and also put up big numbers on offense. Wielt was second on the team with a .350 average and added six home runs. Swords is a graduate student who has started in each of his 200 games over the past five years. He had a career batting average of .351 with occasional pop and speed, and will likely hold a number of school records when the season is over. Malik Wirges returned to baseball last season after starting his career at Butler where his action was limited to primarily being a pinch runner. He returned to everyday action and batted .273 with six home runs and should improve on those numbers this season. Charlie Burton, a transfer catcher from Hanover College, adds depth and experience to the lineup. He batted .352 last season for the Panthers.
The Gorlocks had three excellent starting pitchers in Jordan Smevoll, Alek Elges and Carter Hunt. Smevoll has a 15-3 record of the past two seasons with a 2.51 ERA over 150 1⁄3 innings with 135 strikeouts. Elges became a starter last year after working out of the bullpen in 2021. Last year he had a 3.21 ERA and held opposition to a .225 batting average over 75 ⅔ innings. Hunt started 11 games as a freshman and had a 3.31 ERA over 54 ⅓ innings. Ben Kowalski was invaluable in relief last spring and finished third on the team in innings. Over 27 appearances he was credited with 10 wins and a pair of saves. He struck out 72 batters in 71 ⅓ innings, and held opposition to a .256 average.
11. NORTH CENTRAL CARDINALS (35-14)
The Cardinals have consistently been one of the central region’s top DIII teams over the past decade. In addition to regularly winning no less than 30 games per season, NCC has stockpiled College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin regular season titles like a hungry squirrel stashes nuts, hoarding the title for themselves each of the past seven complete seasons. They were on the cusp of capturing the CCIW tournament crown as well last spring but were edged by Augustana in a 14 inning thriller. NCC received an at-large invite to the postseason and won their first two games (one of which via a walk-off grand slam), but were victimized by UW-Stevens Point to be eliminated. With five regular returners rejoining the roster, and a healthy full-time return of an All-CCIW slugger, the Cardinals should score runs in bunches this spring.
Rob Marinec was the conference Player of the Year in 2019 and a First Team All-CCIW selection in 2021. He missed much of last season, but when he was on the diamond, he batted .451 with eight home runs in 22 games. Dom Listi was the team’s leading hitter last season with a .374 batting average. He also drew 40 walks to achieve a .500 OB% and 25 extra base hits. Jared Wojcik and Luke Lehnen both batted over .300 with double-digit stolen bases totals. Senior lead off hitter Justin Rios batted .327 over the past two seasons and has also made 33 appearances on the mound over four years.
Three starting pitchers are back who wield all-conference caliber arms. Jason Shanner will be playing his sixth season for the Cardinals. Over the past two seasons he earned a solid 3.07 ERA with 17 starts over 29 appearances. Last year he struck out 69 batters in 53 ⅔ innings and held opposition to a .214 average. Luke Lamm broke the school single season record for wins in 2021 and posted a 3.34 ERA and struck out 67 batters in 67 ⅓ innings while only allowing 57 hits. Ryan Behling had a team-leading 1.67 ERA in 2021 and threw a nine-inning no-hitter. Last season he was first on the team with 71 strikeouts. Closer Nolan Shannon also returns. Over the past two seasons he has a 1.77 ERA over 19 appearances.
12. POMONA-PITZER SAGEHENS (32-14)
Pomona-Pitzer finished third in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season standings and second in the SCIAC tournament. They had to wait and hope that their name was going to be called to receive an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. The Sagehens got the invite and advanced all to a winner-take-all contest against Chapman, but couldn’t advance any further. This season is looking to be a memorable one for Pomona-Pitzer. Almost their entire roster returns and the offense is shaping up to be one of the best in the country. Expect the Sagehens to challenge to be the best in the west and earn an opportunity to play in Cedar Rapids.
Senior center fielder David Bedrosian hit .388 with 37 walks to compile an impressive .516 OB%. He also hit 14 doubles and 12 home runs to slug .728 to earn a number of conference and region honors. Bedrosian combines with Isaac Kim and JC Ng to form the core of the Sagehen offense. Kim was the SCIAC Newcomer of the Year and led the team and the conference in hits as he batted .379. He also had a team high 12 home runs and 69 RBI. Ng finished the season on a 20 game hitting streak which raised his average to .360. He topped the team in runs scored and hit seven home runs. Continued hitting and defensive prowess by Jimmy Legg and Nate Jakobs will also make Pomona a favorite in the SCIAC. Legg is the team’s starting shortstop (although he is injured to start the season.) and hit .358. Jakobs made starts in all three outfield spots and batted .336 with seven home runs.
Harry Deliyannis and Jake Hilton are the top returning starting pitchers on the team. Deliyannis struck out 81 batters in 82 ⅓ innings and had a 4.04 ERA. He also made 21 appearances at the plate in which he hit .381. Hilton impressed as a freshman and was credited with an 8-1 record and a 4.67 ERA as he struck out 81 batters in 70 innings. Eamonn Woods made 12 appearances last season with four starts. He struck out 43 batters in 37 innings and only allowed 11 walks. His ERA was a bit inflated due to a couple rough outings, but he has shown signs of brilliance. Hannoh Seo could see some starts as a freshman.
13. CHAPMAN PANTHERS (35-14)
The Chapman Panthers have long been a DIII baseball powerhouse with three national titles – the most recent of which was won in 2019. Last season they finished with a 35-14 record and advanced to the Super Regionals for the second time in two opportunities. The Panthers faced LaGrange with an opportunity to advance to Cedar Rapids, but lost the hotly contested series to the Panthers to have their season come to an end. The Panthers’ pitching staff has three exceptional pitchers back on the mound which will make them a formidable opponent all season. They’ll be without some of last year’s top hitters, but still have plenty of offense to make another long postseason run.
Austin Dudas and Cole Minato will hold down the middle of the infield defense. Dudas is slated to be the team’s second baseman and bat leadoff. He hit .345 in limited action last season as a true freshman. Minato hit .389 while playing third base and will slide over and play shortstop. DH AJ Anzai was the team’s leading hitter with a .398 average and added 19 extra base hits. Davis Mieliwocki led the team in home runs (8) and slugging (.625) and will hold down first base. Brad Shimabuku did not play last season, but has generated a .357 cumulative average his first three seasons.
Grant Manning was terrific both for Chapman in the spring and for Wisconsin Rapids over the summer. For the Panthers he struck out 118 batters in 106 ⅔ innings while earning a 3.12 ERA. In the Northwoods League he was an All Star as he had a 1.38 ERA over 39 innings. Wyatt Thompson also dominated in 2022. In fifteen starts he struck out 82 batters in 74 ⅓ innings with a team leaving 2.18 ERA. Max Banks rounds out the rotation. He had a 3.21 ERA and held opposition to a .187 batting average over 61 ⅔ innings with 72 strikeouts. Henry Chabot, a true freshman, has been penciled in to be the team’s closer.
14. LYNCHBURG HORNETS (36-12)
Lynchburg won the ODAC regular season title for the first time in ten years with a 16-4 record, but faltered in the postseason with earlier than anticipated exits in both their conference tournament and their hosted regional. It was the second consecutive season the Hornets won a school record 36 games and they’ll be looking to advance further this season with the bulk of the roster returning which includes eight regulars who started at least 23 games and three starting pitchers who threw a minimum of 70 innings.
Avery Neaves was the ODAC Player of the Year and an All-American after generating massive offensive numbers. With his .419 batting average, 18 home runs and 56 walks, he slugged .856 and had an OB% of .575. He reached base in all 48 of the team’s games and had 20 multiple hit games (and certainly would have had more had he not walked so many times). Riley O’Donovan, Cameron Lane and Josh Gjormand also return and each batted over .347. O’Donovan split time between catcher and DH and hit five home runs. Lane, who will be playing his fifth season at Lynchburg, had a .497 OB% fueled by his .347 average, 28 walks and 10 HBPs. Gjormand hit .347 in 98 at bats. Brandon Garcia and Logan Webster are young players who will be counted on to produce this season. Garcia is a freshman shortstop and Webster is a sophomore who batted .276 in his debut.
Brandon Pond only appeared in three games last season due to injury. In those limited outings he had a 1.06 ERA and only allowed nine hits in 17 innings, In 2021 he struck out 90 batters in 93 innings with a 2.81 ERA. Nick Mattfield and Zack Potts both started 14 games on the mound. Mattfield struck out 64 batters in 73 ⅔ innings with a 3.18 ERA and put in some of his best innings against top competition. Potts’ ERA jumped a bit last season, but was still credited with an 8-4 record. In 2021 he had a 2.45 ERA and struck out 73 batters in 80 ⅔ innings while only allowing 72 hits and nine walks. With Pond back in the rotation, Jack Bachmore can concentrate on closing games. He made 21 appearances which included nine starts. He had a 2.41 ERA and struck out 66 batters in 71 innings.
15. AURORA SPARTANS (36-11)
The Spartans won the 2022 Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference regular season title with a 21-3 record, but faltered in the NACC tournament and were bounced out early. The loss didn’t stop them from receiving an at-large invite to the NCAA Regionals, where they defeated Augustana College twice, but couldn’t advance past the host UW-Whitewater. This year’s team will be seeking to return to the NCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive season and reach the DIII College World Series for the first time under Head Coach Adam Stevens. With five players back who started at least 43 games and batted at least .322, the offense will score runs in bunches. The pitching staff will be formidable as well with three established starters returning.
Justin Sartori was the NACC Position Player of the Year and recipient of a number of regional and national honors after hitting .375 with 18 doubles and 12 home runs. He also set a school record with 70 RBI. Jacob Ambuel batted .383 with 18 doubles and six home runs. Catcher Jett Wedekind will be playing his sixth season at Aurora. He has been a constant steady performer both at and behind the plate. He batted .342 last season with 10 home runs. He also threw out 18 attempted base stealers. Shortstop Collin Meinert and second baseman Nico Bermeo will return to play the middle infield positions. Meinert batted .322 and Bermeo batted .331.
Jack Fisher earned First Team All-Conference honors as a starting pitcher. He had a 2.79 ERA and held opposition to a .224 batting average over 77 ⅓ innings. Nick Malmberg and Bryce Miller also had double-digit starts last season. Malmberg had a 3.95 ERA and Miller struck out 44 batters over 51 innings. Justin “JZ” Zimmerman, a transfer from nearby Elgin CC, may join the rotation after two successful years as a Spartan.
16. UW-WHITEWATER WARHAWKS (36-11)
UWW has earned the WIAC regular season title eight of the past nine seasons and won 83% of their conference contests with a 178-36 record over that period (which also includes a national title in 2014). After winning their hosted regional last spring they welcomed conference rival UW-Stevens Point for an opportunity to advance to Cedar Rapids. Whitewater lost both games to the Pointers which surprisingly were their fourth WIAC defeat in as many opportunities as UWW had also dropped each of the contests in the conference tournament. The Warhawks will be looking to earn their 14th straight appearance in the national tournament with a team which only needs to replace one batter from their regular lineup which hit .324 as a team and stole 120 bases.The pitching staff isn’t as fortunate, and will require the emergence of a new starting staff; however recruiting new pitchers has never been a concern for the perennial power.
Leadoff hitting outfielder Matt Sconlan hit .343 and was second on the team with seven home runs and 99 total bases as a freshman. Second baseman Sam Vomhof led the team in hitting at .379 and stole 12 bases. Nick Paget hit .346 with 20 extra base hits and stole 13 bases. Matt Korman, who plays both third base and outfield, hit .343 with seven home runs and tied for the team lead with 99 total bases. Shortstop Bennett Frazer, another freshman, batted .344 in his first season with solid defense. Another significant returner is Jacob DeMeyer who has hit .338 over the past two seasons and topped the team in 2022 with 16 stolen bases
Each of UWW’s four pitchers who started at least five games last season have graduated. Cade Berendt, a First Team All-WIAC selection last season after transferring from McKendree, will be back in action. He made 25 appearances last season which included four starts. He was credited with seven wins and two saves while generating a 3.79 ERA. In 59 ⅓ innings he struck out 75 batters and held opposition to a .269 average and only issued 14 walks. Brandl Donovan broke his foot last season, but was brilliant in 2021. He earned First Team All-WIAC honors after he struck out 51 batters in 50 ⅓ innings, held opposition to a .212 average and finished with a 2.32 ERA in primarily a pitching role. He also hit .341 in 129 at bats. Joey Pettit struck out 21 batters in 15 ⅓ innings as a freshman in nine appearances.
17. EAST TEXAS BAPTIST TIGERS (33-13)
ETBU soundly won the American Southwest Conference regular season with a 24-6 mark, the first title under Head Coach Jared Hood, but had to settle for a runner-up finish in the ASC tournament. Without the benefit of earning the conference’s automatic invite to the NCAA tournament, the Tigers had to wait and hope for an at-large bid. When the brackets were announced, ETBU’s name was devastatingly not called. The team will be looking to prove their worthiness this spring with an experienced roster similar to last season. The Tigers also added some transfers which should help them play in the NCAA postseason.
Brett Wagner was the ASC Newcomer of the Year and an ASC First Team selection after batting .339 with a team leading 11 home runs. He also had 18 doubles and a pair of triples to amass a .673 slugging percentage. Catcher Austin Barry led the team in hitting at .388 and will be back behind the plate as the Tigers’ starting catcher for a third season. Christopher Robinson will be playing in his fifth season and has been one of the club’s top offensive performers the past two years. In 2021 he hit .414, and last season he batted .353 with nine home runs. Carson Wilson has also been a mainstay in the ETBU lineup. He earned 86 combined starts the past two seasons and hit .353 last year. Jacob Evangelista, who spent two seasons as a starter at Stephen F. Austin, Parker Perez, who also was initially headed to SFA himself, and graduate student Jordan Hara from Pacific University, add depth and stability to the already stout offense.
Senior Sayers Collins was named the ASC Pitcher of the Year after compiling one of DIII’s top pitching seasons. He started 13 games of which eight were complete games and four were shutouts. In 88 ⅓ innings he only allowed 51 hits while striking out 121 batters. He will be back on the mound along with several other experienced arms. Cole Godkin is a graduate student who has made 42 career starts headed into the season. Last year he had a 3.59 ERA and struck out 90 batters in 95 ⅓ innings. Jagger Neely impressed as a freshman with a 4.29 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 21 innings across 13 appearances. He could move into a starter’s role this year. Jacob Sherman and Breaden Karnes also return. They combined to start 15 games and throw 87 ⅔ solid innings last spring.
18. TRINITY TIGERS (38-13)
Trinity has been one of the most frequent visitors to the DIII College World Series over the past decade with visits in 2015, 2016 (when they won the title), and last season. They earned their 2022 invite after capturing the regular season Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference crown to gain an at-large bid and top regional seed. After advancing out of their regional bracket, they topped Birmingham-Southern to advance to Cedar Rapids. Several top Tigers graduated after the season which will allow some players who were limited in action the opportunity to play everyday. Nevertheless, the team does welcome back a number of experienced and skilled players both at the plate and on the mound as well, which should make them a contender once again.
If Tyler Pettit is healthy and at the top of his game, he is one of DIII’s top catchers. Entering the season he had made 78 starts and generated a .364 batting average. Last season he hit 11 home runs to slug .704. Ezra Gore, who aptly plays all three outfield positions, batted .351 last season and stole 19 bases. After being limited to a few cameo appearances in the lineup the two previous seasons, Michael Montrezza became the school’s regular shortstop and batted .341. Sophomore Nicholas Lazzra, who was limited to 14 games last season, batted .400 in 35 at bats and could be a major offensive force this season. Brandon Nelson and Chrstian Holloway are also among the players looking to break out. Nelson only saw action in five games, but could be a regular this spring. Holloway played very well in 28 games and hit .370 in 92 at bats.
Joseph Chavana moved up from receiving All-SCAC Second Team honors in 2021 to gaining First Team recognition last season. He was credited with a 10-2 record and struckout 80 batters in 90 ⅔ innings. He went the distance in four of his nine starts and threw a pair of shutouts. Harrison Durow struck out 68 batters in only 47 ⅔ innings, primarily in relief, but also made four starts. He had an unblemished 8-0 record with four saves. Jackson Teer pitched last season at Texas A&M – Kingsville and will likely be in the Tiger’s rotation. Look for Cade McGahan to emerge as the team’s go-to arm out of the bullpen. He has split time in relief and as a starter over the past two seasons.
19. CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT CAPTAINS (27-14)
The Captains had one of DIII’s most difficult schedules last season with games against Birmingham Southern, Marietta, Lynchburg and Salisbury just to name a few. Their regular season play earned them an invite to the NCAA postseason where they earned a pair of wins, but couldn’t get past Marietta to advance to Super Regional play. The Captains have a deep roster of experienced players, especially on the mound, which will give them an edge in most matchups. They’ve also added an arsenal of newcomers who make the team a strong contender to advance to the DIII College World Series for the fourth time under Head Coach John Harvel and first since 2012.
Justin Bowers earned All-American honors after transferring from NC Central. He batted .364 with 14 home runs to amass a school record .851 slugging percentage. His 34 walks and 13 HBPs pushed his OB% to .423. He also made only a pair of errors in 189 defensive chances. Second baseman Daniel Elliott was second on the team with a .336 average and accomplished the rare feat of walking more times than striking out. He was also an important part of the pitching staff as the team’s closer. Scott Croson hit .317 with nine doubles and eight stolen bases. Senior Alec Reilly batted .308 in his third season as a starter and will primarily be the team’s DH. Josh Reinhold and Jake Benedict will likely enter the starting lineup as freshmen.
Jay Cassady and Dylan Weber both had successful seasons on the mound last year and will return to lead the staff. Cassady struck out 95 batters in 69 innings. His season ERA was 2.95 before being ballooned by a bad outing to end the season. This will be Weber’s fourth year as a starter on the mound. Last season he had a 3.59 ERA and struck out 77 batters in 62 ⅔ innings. Colby Shriner was excellent in three starts last season before missing the rest of the season due to injury. He had a 1.50 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 12 innings. Freshman Brandon Cassedy should see some starting opportunities out of the gate as well. Daniel Elliott was masterful out of the bullpen last season. He struck out 61 batters in only 45 innings as he earned eight saves and a 2.20 ERA. Transfer Christian Williams appeared in 16 games in relief at USC Upstate last season and will help complete the staff.
20. ITHACA BOMBERS (34-14)
After finishing with a 15-5 record in the Liberty League during the regular season, the Bombers claimed their first conference championship since joining the league by going 3-0 in the end of year tournament. In doing so they advanced to the NCAA Regionals where their success continued. They went 3-0 again to earn the opportunity to host Catholic with an invite to the NCAA DIII College World Series on the line. Ithaca had a shutout victory in the first game, but the Cardinals came back to win the next two games. The Bombers ended the year with a 34-14 record which was the second most wins in a single year, bested only by the 2013 team which advanced to the World Series. With only one player not returning who started 20 games, and the return of an All Conference performer who missed last season, the offense will be difficult to stop. The staff is also experienced with many of last year’s primary pitchers back in action, but could be vulnerable due to a lack of depth.
Shortstop Connor Pedersen had a stunning debut as he hit .377 as a freshman and set a school record of 77 hits. He will be rejoined in the middle infield with fellow sophomore Riley Brawdy, the Bombers’ lead off hitter and second baseman. Brawdy hit .265 with ten stolen bases. Louis Fabbo will be playing his third season in the Ithaca outfield. Last season he hit .364 with 14 doubles and five home runs. The embarrassment of riches continues with Matt Fabian who hit .359 and stole 11 bases, and Nicholas Cutaia, yet another freshman who had a monster debut with a .339 average with 14 doubles and three triples. Despite all these productive players, the biggest bat in the lineup is swung by Garrett Callaghan. Callaghan hit .375 and slugged nine home runs in only 88 at bats in 2021 to earn Liberty League First Team honors.
Kyle Lambert was the Liberty League Pitcher of the Year and set a single season record for strikeouts with 96. He had a 3.09 ERA and held opposition to a .219 batting average. In the first game of the Super Regionals he shutout Catholic with 11 strikeouts. Colin Leyner had a 3.68 ERA and struck out 55 batters as a freshman. In 14 appearances, which included nine starts, he only allowed 51 hits in 63 ⅔ innings for a .216 batting average against. Senior Garrett Bell will likely join the rotation full time this spring. He struck out 42 batters in 41 innings over 19 appearances. He had a perfect 7-0 record, but an inflated ERA after getting battered in his final outing of the season. Erislandy Rives, who struck out 23 batters in 22 innings and earned a pair of saves in 16 appearances, also returns.
21. EASTERN CONNECTICUT STATE WARRIORS (49-3)
The Warriors completed their second straight 15-1 Little East Conference regular season and kept rolling into the postseason as they swept the LEC tournament with a pair of shutout wins and a lopsided 16-1 mauling of UMass Dartmouth in the finale to win their 10th tournament title in 14 appearances. After three more wins in NCAA Regional action, ECSU advanced to Cedar Rapids by scoring their final run over Rowan in the 13th inning thanks to a bases loaded hit-by-pitch. The victory broke the program season record for wins in a season and they still had the DIII CWS to play. In Cedar Rapids the Warriors continued to win and earned the school’s fifth national championship as they finished with a 49-3 record and 23 consecutive victories.
Capturing another title will be a difficult undertaking as graduating players comprised five of the team’s nine starting lineup slots. Additionally, only three pitchers return who threw a minimum of 15 innings. Even with an influx of excellent transfers, replacing their production will be an arduous task. A solid nucleus of excellent returners remains, but it would be a remarkable feat if they are to come close to matching last year’s success.
Matt Malcom is an established starter who had appeared in 122 games entering the season. Last year he hit .351 with 11 doubles and 10 home runs as the team’s catcher. His presence in the dugout and behind the plate will be critical for the revamped roster. Noah Plantamuro will be playing his fifth season for the Warriors as well. He had been a fixture at second base and batted .304 last season with only 12 strikeouts in 158 at bats. Shortstop Zach Donahue, the team’s shortstop and leadoff hitter, is another welcome return. He was a member of the University of Connecticut team for two years before moving to ECSU. Last year he batted .327 with 13 stolen bases and was solid on defense. Jason Claiborn is the other starter from last year’s historic club back. He batted .329 and led the team with 16 stolen bases. Offensive reinforcements include Tiernan Lynch from Merrimack College and Ray Leonzi from Fairfield.
The pitching staff was magnificent last season and a huge reason why the championship trophy returned to Connecticut. Unfortunately of the 52 starts made last season, players accounting for only six are back on the team this year. Four of the starts were made by Nolan Lincoln. He appeared primarily in relief, had a 3.19 ERA, and held opposition to a .204 batting average over 31 innings. Griffin Pontbraint started once in his fifteen appearances and threw 29 innings. He earned a 2.48 ERA and stuck out 24 in 29 innings. Matt Wootton, who missed last season but appeared in 12 games in relief in 2021, is a candidate to join the regular rotation. Towering 6’7” freshman Dylan Scudder should see immediate starts as well. Transfers who will be replenishing the pitching core include Sean Wininger from Central Connecticut State, Finn Doherty from Salve Regina, Dan Driscoll from Mitchell College and Alec Lachniet. None of the quartet put up significant numbers at their previous schools.
22. AUGUSTANA VIKINGS (34-12)
The Vikings have had unprecedented success over the past two seasons and it appears more is in store this spring. In 2021 the team went 35-9 and placed second in the CCIW. Last season Augustana again was second in the conference standings, but swept through the tournament to win their first title since 2016. The win earned them the opportunity to compete in the NCAA DIII Postseason Tournament where they split two hotly contested games before being eliminated by state rival Aurora. This season the Vikings tout a pitching staff with three lively arms that will stockpile strikeouts. The offense from last year is largely intact as well and has added some young players who’ll help put runs on the board.
Alex Simon and Kyle Campbell hold down the left line defensively as the team’s third baseman and left fielder. Simon has started 90 games over the past two seasons and batted .307 with 15 stolen bases. Campbell led the team in batting last season at .325 with 13 doubles and generated a .438 OB%. Alec McGinnis and Matt Ozanic give the team another seasoned pair of hitters. McGinnis, a junior second baseman, batted .309 with a .463 OB%. Ozanic, a graduate student playing his fifth year on the team, hit .326 and .306 the past two seasons with occasional pop. Cole Green emerged to be the team’s everyday shortstop and also returns. He hit .293 as a freshman last spring. Michael Aragon, a catcher from Lake Land College, will likely see action in the middle of the lineup right away, as will freshman center fielder Dymitri Kanellakis.
Josh Wintroub, Harrison Boushele and Addison Southwick may combine to compile 300 strikeouts this year. After only pitching a combined 13 innings his first three seasons, Wintroub emerged year to fan 96 batters in 79 ⅔ innings with a 2.71 ERA. Boushele struck out 114 batters in only 82 innings and had a 3.95 ERA. He only allowed 74 hits to keep opposition to a .236 batting average. Southwick also earns strikeouts at an impressive pace. In 32 ⅔ innings he struck out 50 batters. Each of his 17 appearances last season were in relief, but he’ll join the rotation this spring. Jacob Reusch will be tasked with closing games. The senior hurler has been dependable the past two seasons. In 2022 he had a 2.67 ERA over 33 2⁄3 innings. Bryce Luckey is another important member of the staff. He made 22 appearances last year with a pair of starts. In 56 ⅔ innings he only allowed 44 hits and struck out 59 batters.
23. MONTCLAIR STATE RED HAWKS (31-13)
Montclair finished second in the NJAC regular season standings, but were forced to hope for an at-large bid into the NCAA postseason after a poor performance in the conference tournament. The Red Hawks were fortunate to receive their first invite in 13 years, but were ousted early with losses to Ithaca and Immaculata. Nonetheless, their 31 season wins were the highest since 2006 and Head Coach Dave Lober appears to have the team on the precipice of making more history this season. The team returns five regulars who batted over .300 and a starting rotation that will keep them in contention in every series.
Peter Cosentino plays both corners of the infield and will be playing his fifth season as a starter for the team. He has a .401 college career batting average and led the team in hits and doubles last season. This will be Anthony Guartnio sixth year on the Red Hawks as catcher. Last season he batted .366 and earned a number of conference and regional accolades. Senior Miles Feaster plays sure-handed second base and batted .384 last spring with only five strikeouts in 146 at bats. Ryan McKenna can play multiple positions comfortably and batted .331 with five triples and eight stolen bases. In addition to several other quality offensive returners back, the team added sophomore Matt Kaliske who batted .400 last season at New Jersey City.
Senior Patrick Cuccurullo had a team high 95 strikeouts last season in only 77 ⅓ innings of work. For the season he earned a 2.79 ERA and held opposition to a .214 batting average. Joining him on the staff is Dylan Taliaferro from Kean. Taliaferro threw 58 innings for the Cougars in which he struck out 51 batters and had a 3.41 ERA. Michael Timberlake is a freshman likely to make an immediate impact. The 6’7” hurler was rated as one of the top high school hurlers in the state. Matt Pontari gives the team another experienced arm on the roster. He made 11 appearances with eight starts last season and struck out 39 batters in 39 ⅓ innings. Jack Haverson struck out 38 batters in 27 innings in 2022 and earned eight saves as the team’s closer.
24. MARIETTA PIONEERS (44-7)
The Pioneers won both the Ohio Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles and rolled through their NCAA Region to face Oswego State with the winner going on to Cedar Rapids. The Pioneers easily won both games and outscored the Lakers 32-7 to advance to their 23rd DIII World Series. After a shutout win in their opening game, Marietta suffered two close losses to have their season come to a close. Earning a shot at taking home a seventh national championship this season will require a number of pieces falling into place. Like ECSU, Marietta was powered by a number of seniors having superlative seasons. Only two everyday players will be back on the diamond this spring. They do however return three pitchers who made at least 11 starts which will help take some pressure off the rebuilt offensive roster.
Brett Carson and Alex Richter are the two remaining players from last year’s everyday lineup. Carson is a graduate student and tied for the team lead with 10 home runs and was second on the team with a .423 batting average. Richter hit .352 as a freshman and was stupendous as a second baseman. He only made three errors in 215 chances and will likely move over to shortstop. Nick Bonnizzio has been penciled in to bat leadoff and play third base. He only had 14 at bats last season. Cole Yeager’s only action last year was an inning on the mound, but he’ll return to the infield where he excelled in high school. Ty Davis is another player who’ll be asked to step up this year. In five at bats last spring he rapped out a hit in each of them which included a double and a home run. Ben Kaplin will take over the regular catching role. He batted .343 in 35 at bats last year.
The Pioneers’ pitching prognosis is not nearly as unpredictable. The aforementioned Carson was also a major contributor on the mound. He made 11 starts and struck out 55 batters in 57 innings. Gino Sabatine had made 37 appearances over four years coming into the season. In 2021 he had a 2.53 ERA and stuck out 57 batters in 78 ⅓ innings. The top pitcher for Marietta is unquestionably Trent Valentine. Last year won several conference, regional and national honors for his work on the mound. He was credited with a 14-1 record and had a 1.96 ERA. In 91 ⅔ innings he only allowed 73 hits and struck out 74 batters. Zach Marzetz showed potential last season as a freshman. He had a 2.64 ERA over 12 games and 30 ⅔ innings. Local product Kail Hill will likely see an increase in innings this season. He appeared in 12 games last year.
25. BETHEL ROYALS (35-11)
The Royals both won the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season and playoff title last season, making them the first school since 2014 to be able to make the claim. They advanced to the first round of the national postseason and earned both their first and second ever NCAA wins which put them only a pair of victories away from making their Super Regional debut. Wooster wouldn’t cooperate with the Royals’ plans however, and eliminated them from the postseason. Every player who made at least 20 starts on offense is back this season, as well as every pitcher who started at least five games and their primary closer. The Royals are poised to make program history again and unquestionably have a team capable of making their first Super Regional appearance and potentially more.
Center fielder Matthew Carlsen led the team with a .429 batting average and had 22 extra base hits to accumulate a .655 slugging percentage. He incredibly was hit by a pitch (14) more times than he struck out (12), and had a .505 OB%. Justin Winterfelt led the team with 12 home runs and 20 doubles while batting .366. His .692 slugging percentage was also tops on the team. Tommy Friesen and Keenan Hodgkin will both be playing his fifth season on the Royals. Friesen hit .352 and Hodgkin was close behind at .349. The Royals also have four other players returning who each started no less than 25 games, earned at least 110 at bats and batted over .310. Transfer Matt Friesen from the University of Ohio has also joined the team and should get at bats in the middle of order as catcher.
Max Sutter was one of the team’s top pitchers as a freshman. He had a 2.50 ERA and threw a complete game in six of 13 starts. On the season he totaled 82 ⅔ innings and struck out 68 batters while only issuing nine walks. Ty Koehn has made starts in each of the past four seasons. Last year he earned a 2.64 ERA over 47 ⅔ innings. He held opposition to a .222 batting average and struck out 57 batters. Brothers Marcus and Jordan Krupke round out the starting staff. Marcus is the older brother and has three seasons of being a rotation regular. Last year he had a 4.45 ERA, three complete games and threw 60 ⅔ innings with only four walks allowed. Last year was Jordan’s second on the team. He made five starts over eight appearances and finished with a 2.23 ERA. In 36 ⅓ innings he struck out 24 batters while only walking five. Blake Williams is the team’s closer. He had a 1.51 ERA last season and held opposition to a .179 batting average.