Bridgewater, Lynchburg, Shenandoah Receive First Place Consideration
FOREST, Va. --- The top of the 2013 ODAC Baseball Preseason Poll is as tightly packed as any season as just two points separate three teams, all of which received first place consideration. Bridgewater College heads the poll after picking up 92 points and four top nods. Lynchburg College sits second, also with four first place tabs towards 91 points. New to the ODAC in 2013, Shenandoah University debuts at the #3 position with 90 points and the remaining three top billings.
Lynchburg took home its eighth overall ODAC title in 2012, marking its first league crown since 1990. LC topped Bridgewater, 2-1, in the deciding game, completing a 4-0 sweep through the four-day affair at historic City Stadium in Lynchburg. The win awarded the Hornets the ODAC's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, but their postseason success wouldn't carry over as LC was topped by Salisbury University (7-2) and Christopher Newport University (7-1) in its first two games of the double-elimination tourney.
Bridgewater (31-14 overall, 12-6 in the ODAC in 2012) looks to return to the ODAC championship game for the fourth consecutive year as the Eagles try for their ODAC-best 14th league title. Back to lead the way is a stable of returning talent, including All-ODAC Second Team second baseman Zach Hynes (.376 BA, 4 3B, 23RBI) and All-ODAC Third Team pitcher Robert Gallet (5-2, 2.93 ERA, 70.2 IP, 48 K). Infielder Andrew Hacker (.369, 14 2B, 28 RBI) and outfielder Jonathan Mason (.274, 7 HR, 36 RBI) bolster the Eagles' offense, while southpaws Corey Armentrout (4-4, 2.02 ERA, 62.1 IP, 61 K) and Joseph Lucas (5-2, 4.45 ERA, 58.2 IP) and righty Dillon Via (4-0, 2.48 ERA, 40.0 IP, 23 K) add punch to BC's rotation.
Lynchburg (34-10, 14-4) returns four all-conference performers from 2012, including a pair of All-ODAC First Team choices in third baseman Dan Savage (.399, 20 2B, 48 RBI) and designated hitter Brock Shiflett (.336, 24 RBI). Brandon Miller (8-0, 1.99 ERA, 72.0 IP, 53 K) is back to lead the pitching staff following a rookie season that saw him earn second team honors, and he's joined by fellow second teamer, shortstop Michael Kenah (.372, 15 2B, 42 RBI). It was Kenah who provided the sacrifice fly to plate the winning run in the eighth inning of the 2012 title game. Also back at LC is pitcher James Womack (3-1, 1 SV, 4.28 ERA, 33.2 IP, 22 K).
There is a second set of Hornets joining the ODAC this season as Shenandoah (31-13, 8-4 in the USA South) embarks on its first season of ODAC baseball. The Hornets won USA South titles in 2010 and 2011, and have appeared in the NCAA Tournament in each of the past four seasons. Coach Kevin Anderson's squad went to the NCAA Division III National Championship Series in Appleton, Wisc., in 2009 and 2010. SU is the only ODAC squad currently ranked in the ABCA (#27) and D3baseball.com (#23) preseason polls, although both Bridgewater and Lynchburg are receiving votes in the latter survey. Designated hitter Nick Beall (.421, 12 2B, 35 RBI .522 OBP) is the lone All-USA South honoree back this season, and he was recently named to the D3baseball.com Preseason All-America second team. Also back for SU is third baseman Mikey Paul (.321, 14 RBI), outfielder Corbin Lucas (.312, 10 2B, 24 RBI), starter Nick McMahon (6-1, 3.19 ERA, 53.2 IP, 35 K) and closer Matt Riegler (4-0, 6 SV, 1.39 ERA, 32.1 IP, 23 K).
Randolph-Macon College (20-19-1, 11-7) will need to replace the production from 2012 ODAC Player of the Year, Jordan Walton. Back to help in that effort is second team choice Michael Helbig (.316, 20 RBI/4-2, 3.66 ERA, 66.1 IP, 42 K), who spent time at third base and on the mound last season. He's joined by outfielder Jeb Weymouth (.303, 4 HR, 22 RBI) and righty Jake Bram (3-3, 4.17 ERA, 45.1 IP, 26 K).
Guilford College (21-20, 9-9) features four returning all-conference athletes, led by second team first baseman John Macon Smith (.400, 14 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 51 RBI, .794 SLG). Second baseman Ben Esser (.331, 24 RBI), shortstop D.J. Phillips (.381, 19 RBI) and outfielder Casey Mann (.361, 3 3B, 19 RBI, 13 SB) all garnered a spot on the third team. Third baseman Kent Peterson (.403, 26 RBI) gives the Quakers a full returning infield. The pitching staff is led by Borja Jones-Berasaluce (4-3, 4.66 ERA, 58.0 IP, 30 K) and Will James (2-5, 4.66 ERA, 73.1 IP, 32 K).
Hampden-Sydney College (14-27, 8-10) and Washington and Lee University (15-19, 8-10) feature a series of standout returners. The Tigers welcome back three all-conference honorees, including 2012 ODAC Rookie of the Year and first team pitcher Zach Whitaker (7-4, 2 SV, 3.38 ERA, 72.0 IP, 53 K). Outfielder Christian Hamlett (.325, 10 2B, 3 3B, 10 RBI) and designated hitter Jeff Gray (.357, 19 RBI) both earned second team accolades after strong freshman seasons for H-SC. The Generals are led by first team shortstop Jonathan Stutts (.402, 11 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 25 RBI, .500 OBP). They'll look to catcher Will Salley (.320, 10 2B, 21 RBI) and pitcher Ian Shaw (5-4, 3.69 ERA, 61.0 IP, 27 K) to help aid in W&L's effort to return to its first ODAC title game since winning the league crown in 2009.
Virginia Wesleyan College (11-22, 6-12) and Emory & Henry College (15-23, 11-7) both have graduated senior talent to replace from 2012. The Marlins enter the season with infielder Josh Miller (.331, 19 RBI) leading the offense and lefty Alex Tucci (2-6, 6.04 ERA, 50.2 IP, 35 K) heading the pitching staff. The Wasps and 2012 ODAC Coach of the Year, Trey McCall, returned to the ODAC Tournament for the first time since 1999, powered by a program-best 11 league victories. Outfielder Eric Houff (.309, 10 2B, 23 RBI, 21 SB) and right-handers Will Dingus (2-4, 4 SV, 5.98 ERA, 61.2 IP, 23 K) and Jessup Lambert (4-8, 6.90 ERA, 73.0 IP, 47 K) look to keep E&H on an upward trend, despite the graduation of four all-conference players.
Roanoke College (16-21) and Eastern Mennonite University (11-27, 4-14) each supply their new head coaches with one returning All-ODAC honoree. Matt McGuire takes hold of the Maroons' reins after a year as an assistant at Randolph-Macon and three years at Ferrum College. He welcomes back first team outfielder Brian Kluge (.360, 14 2B, 18 RBI). Pitchers Mark Wimmer (2-5, 5.32 ERA, 45.2 IP, 35 K) and Jacob McMillan (4-2, 5.23 ERA, 41.1 IP, 21 K) lead RC's pitching staff. EMU also turned to a new mentor with ODAC experience in former 14-year Bridgewater assistant, Ben Spotts. The Royals feature the return of second team third baseman Justin Rodriguez (.374, 11 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 41 RBI). They also welcome back outfielder B.J. Mortimer (.304, 4 3B, 18 RBI, 12 SAC) and right-hander Casey Harlow (2-4, 4.28 ERA, 61.0 IP, 52 K).
Listed below is the full 2013 ODAC Baseball Preseason Poll. For more information on ODAC baseball, visit any of the participating school's websites, or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com. Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook. You can also follow the ODAC on Twitter @odacathletics.
2013 ODAC BASEBALL PRESEASON POLL
(#) denotes first place votes
|1. Bridgewater (4)||92 pts.|
|2. Lynchburg (4)||91 pts.|
|3. Shenandoah (3)||90 pts.|
|4. Randolph-Macon||71 pts.|
|5. Guilford||58 pts.|
|6. Hampden-Sydney||52 pts.|
|7. Washington and Lee||48 pts.|
|8. Virginia Wesleyan||34 pts.|
|9. Emory & Henry||30 pts.|
|10. Roanoke||22 pts.|
|11. Eastern Mennonite||17 pts.|