Bridgewater Tops ODAC Baseball Poll

Bridgewater Tops ODAC Baseball Poll

R-MC Two Votes Back, VWC and LC also Tight at Top

 FOREST, Va. --- In what could be a telling sign for the upcoming season, just 15 points separate the top four teams in the 2011 ODAC Baseball Preseason Poll.  Bridgewater College stands at the top, having secured four first place votes on the way to 90 total poll points in the annual survey of the league’s coaches.  Randolph-Macon College sits just two points back with 88 tallies, but the Yellow Jackets received five first place nods.  Virginia Wesleyan College sits third with 80 points, and Lynchburg College is fourth with 75 markers.  Guilford College earned the final first place vote.

Bridgewater collected an ODAC-best 13th conference title in 2010, having defeated Lynchburg twice on the tournament’s final day to hoist the conference hardware.  Those victories would mark the last for BC in 2010 as losses to Shenandoah University and Salisbury University in the NCAA Division III Tournament ended the Eagles’ experience in the double-elimination event.

For the 2011 campaign, BC welcomes back its top two hitters in second baseman Kevin Kirk and catcher Devon Snow.  Kirk finished 12th in the ODAC with a .398 batting average, proving one of the toughest hitters to strike out (7 in 133 at-bats).  Snow hit at a .391 clip, good enough for 14th in the league, and led the team with 15 stolen bases.  The Eagles’ pitching corps will be without their top three starters from the 2010 season, but plenty of experience returns.  Kevin Chandler posted a 6-4 record covering 15 appearances and eight starts.  He struck out 45 batters in 69.1 innings, but will look to lower his 6.23 ERA.  Jake Wade (14), Joseph Lucas (13) and John Bayse (11) combined for 38 appearances, with each making at least two spot starts.

Randolph-Macon opens up its new home in 2011 with the completion of Hugh Stephens Field at Estes Park (click HERE for photos from the first practice).  Five all-conference performers return to break in the new digs, including 2010 ODAC Pitcher of the Year, Kyle Hicks.  Hicks led the ODAC with a 2.15 ERA in posting a 6-2 record.  He fanned 48 and walked just 11 in 54.1 innings.  Batters hit only .243 against him.  Fellow All-ODAC First Team player and battery-mate Jay Lichter batted .433 (5th in the ODAC) and boasted a .531 on-base percentage (2nd in the ODAC), leading the way towards a Preseason Second Team All-America bid.  Also back are All-ODAC Second Team outfielders Brian Jordan (.380) and Jeb Weymouth (.382) and honorable mention first baseman Jordan Walton (.370).  Jordan led the ODAC with 28 walks and had a .500 OBP while Weymouth was fourth in runs scored (43).  Walton was fifth in the ODAC with 37 runs batted in.

Virginia Wesleyan will look to plenty of new faces both at the plate and on the mound.  All-ODAC First Team outfielder Myles Shipp leads an offense that looks to replace the efforts of All-American and ODAC Player of the Year, Mike Marion.  Shipp was eighth in the ODAC with a .415 batting average, collecting 20 walks towards a .497 OBP.  Alex DeJesus leads the pitching staff after posting a 2.04 ERA in an ODAC-high 19 relief appearances.  He also topped the league with five saves.

Lynchburg (23-16-1, 10-8) welcomes back a trio of second team choices in first baseman Chris Colquhoun (.331) shortstop Richard Palase (.301) and designated hitter Brock Shiflett (.397).  Shiflett, the reigning ODAC Rookie of the Year, collected 14 doubles as part of 56 hits.  Outfielder Mike Walters (.379) led the ODAC with 18 two-baggers.  Bryan Breedlove (2-2, 3.43) and Matt Morgan (3-0, 3.11) spearhead the Hornet pitchers.  Look for Jared Millner (38 K in 37.1 IP) to contribute as well.

Hampden-Sydney fields a strong group of returners, led by a pair of All-ODAC First Team choices in first baseman Justin Hebert (.382, 8 HR) and shortstop Chris Martin (.342, 22 BB).  The Tigers boast one of the conference’s top leadoff men in outfielder Herbie Williams (.423), who led the ODAC with six triples and was second with 34 stolen bases.  Mike Blanchard is back on the bump after posting a 5-0 mark in 2010.

Washington and Lee and Guilford both return standout talent.  All-ODAC Second Team pitcher Roger Strong leads the Generals’ staff after posting a 4-2 record and a 3.28 ERA.  Shortstop Jonathan Stutts hit .345.  The Quakers welcome back former NCAA batting champion Kyle Wooden to the dugout following a junior campaign in which he batted .341 with 13 doubles, eight homers and 33 RBI.  Casey Mann (.367) and Derek Hardison (.346) also return after solid seasons at the dish.

Eastern Mennonite looks forward to another solid season from second team catcher Dylan Smith, who topped the ODAC with a .458 batting average and .538 OBP in 2010.  Outfielder Chris Harpine (.330) is also back following an honorable mention selection last year.  Roanoke will rely upon new faces across the diamond.  Mark Manthe (.263) is the top returning bat, while the pitching staff will look for Michael Haslam (1-3, 27 K) and John Terlesky (2-0, 30 K) to take over the reins.  Emory & Henry features the return of top hitter Eric Houff, who was sixth in the ODAC with a .425 batting average.

Listed below is the complete 2010 ODAC Baseball Preseason Poll.  For more information, visit the websites of any of the participating schools, or go to the ODAC’s home on the Internet at

(#) Denotes First Place Votes

1. Bridgewater (4) 90 pts.
2. Randolph-Macon (5) 88 pts.
3. Virginia Wesleyan 80 pts.
4. Lynchburg 75 pts.
5. Hampden-Sydney 54 pts.
6. Washington and Lee 50 pts.
7. Guilford (1) 44 pts.
8. Eastern Mennonite 32 pts.
9. Roanoke 23 pts.
10. Emory & Henry 14 pts.