Marlins Picked to Repeat as ODAC Baseball Champs

VWC Edges Bridgewater for Top Billing in Preseason Poll

SALEM, Va. --- While many a coach will openly state that preseason predictions do not mean much come the end of the season, the yearly prognostications give those of us outside the dugouts a starting point for the upcoming campaigns.

Virginia Wesleyan College, champions of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) tournament a season ago, has been picked to repeat for the title by the league's coaches in the annual ODAC Baseball Preseason Poll.  The Marlins earned 96 total votes including six first place nods to shave Bridgewater College, which received 94 overall tallies, four for the top spot.  Washington & Lee University rounds out the top three with 69 falling chads.

The Marlins will be in search of their seventh overall conference crown and their fourth in the last five years.  In last season's conference tournament, VWC knocked off Bridgewater twice en route to hoisting the tourney trophy, but did so by the narrowest of margins with a go-ahead run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Virginia Wesleyan (24-22 last season) welcomes back two of its three first team All-ODAC performers in catcher Matt Hudgins and infielder Ricky Allred, not to mention the conference tournament's Most Outstanding Player, righty Chris Rivera.  Hudgins finished the season with an even .300 batting average and team-bests nine home runs and 48 runs batted in.  He also threw out 16 baserunners from behind the dish.  Allred hit .376 with a team-high 14 doubles.  He also won two games on the mound.  Rivera won three games and saved another in helping the Marlins sweep their four games in the ODAC tournament.  Rivera beat Bridgewater twice, throwing a complete game-shutout to earn a spot in the final contest and then tossing the final inning of relief in the title game to earn the victory.

Bridgewater (32-14-1) welcomes back two of its three All-ODAC first teamers in infielder Jono Brooks and 2006 Player of the Year, Ricky Read.  Brooks, also named to the ODAC All-Tournament team, led the Eagles in several offensive categories including batting average (.390), hits (76), triples (10), and stolen bases (16 in 18 attempts).  Read provided doubly for the Eagles, hitting .337 with eight round-trippers and 49 RBI, both team highs.  He also sparkled on the mount, posting a 10-1 record, the most wins in the league, with a 2.68 earned run average.  He completed six of his 10 starts, and also saved three contests.  He struck out 73 batters against only 17 walks, good enough for a trim 4.29 strike outs-to-walks ratio.  He also surrendered a league-low .214 batting average to opposing hitters.

Washington & Lee (18-15-1) looks to improve upon its two-loss showing in the round-robin portion of last year's tournament.  Leading the way from the batter's box will be outfielder James Madden, second team All-ODAC a season ago.  Madden batted .435 with a team-best seven dingers and an ODAC-best .758 slugging percentage.  Clayton Edwards returns as the top arm after posting a 6-2 record with a 4.31 ERA and a pair of saves.

For a complete look at the 2007 ODAC Baseball Preseason Poll, view the listing below or visit the ODAC on the web at

2007 ODAC Preseason Baseball Poll
(#) Denotes First Place Votes



1. Virginia Wesleyan

96 (6)

2. Bridgewater

94 (4)

3. Washington & Lee


4. Randolph-Macon


5. Lynchburg


6. Hampden-Sydney


7. Guilford


8. Roanoke


9. Eastern Mennonite