|The LaGrange Panthers are entering the regional round as the top ranked team in the nation.
LaGrange athletics photo
Follow this regional
Meet the teams
By Jim Dixon
The South Regional has not produced a national champion this century but this could be the year this all changes. With the top teams from the south scattered over three regionals, we could very well see up to three teams from the south in Appleton. In Danville, the list of contenders starts with the LaGrange Panthers and Salisbury Sea Gulls. LaGrange brings in a number one ranking and the best record in D-III Baseball this season. Salisbury rolled through the Capital Athletic Conference tournament, winning by wide margins and ended their regular season with a win over Shenandoah.
Rowan finished behind Ramapo in the NJAC and exited the tournament after a loss to Roadrunners with a 1-2 record in the regular and post- seasons with their rivals, but finished ahead of Ramapo in the regional rankings to earn a ticket to dance while Ramapo stayed home. Emory, a former No. 1 team, fell out of the Top 25 by the end of the season. The Eagles are in familiar territory. Emory will be looking to give three of their players a spot in the D-III World Series record book with four World Series appearances.
Otterbein makes the trip east after winning the OAC tournament. This is a hungry team that is more interested in a deep playoff run. Do not forget Roanoke. They are playing with house money this coming weekend.
Danville Regional schedule
Thursday, May 18
Game 1: No. 1 Salisbury (31-9) vs. No. 6 Roanoke (29-16), 11 a.m.
Game 2: No. 2 LaGrange (38-4) vs. No. 5 Otterbein (31-12), 2:30
Game 3: No. 3 Emory (27-12) vs. No. 4 Rowan (28-16), 6:00
Friday, May 19
Game 4: Salisbury vs. Otterbein, 11 a.m.
Game 5: Roanoke vs. Emory, 2:30
Game 6: LaGrange vs. Rowan, 6:00
Saturday, May 20
Game 7: Roanoke vs. LaGrange, 11 a.m
Game 8: Salisbury vs. Rowan, 2:30
Game 9: Salisbury vs. LaGrange, 6:00
Sunday, May 21
Game 10: Salisbury vs. Roanoke, 12
Game 11: Game 11 rematch, if necessary
We expect to see the Panthers in Appleton. Shipped to the Sauget Regional is Birmingham-Southern who accounted for half of LaGrange's losses. The USA South regular season and tournament champion is playing well in most phases of the game with a top 5 pitching staff, and a top 35 offense and defense. This is the recipe to win.
Most likely to disappoint
Emory came into the 2017 season riding on a high note with 11 straight wins but collected half of its losses in a nine-day span. After three straight trips to Appleton, not making the fourth will be a disappointment. Not to fear, Eagle fans. The last time we picked them as the team to disappoint, the only teams that were disappointed were those playing the Eagles as they finished second in the nation.
Roanoke is fitted for glass slippers. They cracked the Top 25 in March for their first ever appearance in the rankings, but slipped out at the end of the month. The Maroons might have found the magic back. A six seed in their conference tournament that featured five teams in the regional rankings, Roanoke battled to the ODAC tournament title and their first pass into the NCAA playoffs. Their 4-1 record, all against regionally ranked opponents, not only earned them a spot in the final regional rankings, but showed that Roanoke is capable winning against top competition.
Players to Watch
C Stephan Hernon, Otterbein (.348, 30 R, 14 2B, 8 HR, 42 RBI, .594)
1B Bubby Terp, Emory (.323, 26 R, 8 2B, 2 HR, 30 RBI, .452 Slg.)
2B Pete Grasso, Salisbury (.398, 51 R, 11 2B, 8 HR, 43 RBI, .640 Slg.)
3B Blake Butcher, LaGrange (.341, 35 R, 15 2B, 7 HR, 44 RBI, .614 Slg.)
SS Tavin Tompson, LaGrange (.386, 52 R, 13 2B, 2 HR, 31 RBI, .544 Slg.)
OF Jason Clapper, Rowan (.350, 35 R, 7 2B, 2 HR, 16 RBI, .446 Slg.)
OF Will Decker, Roanoke (.315, 32 R, 7 2B, 2 HR, 35 RBI, .478 Slg.)
OF Patt Birrar, Otterbein (.304, 24 R, 5 2B, 4 HR, 25 RBI, .489 Slg.)
SP Billy Dimlow, Emory (6-1, 0.95 ERA, 1 CG, 66.1 IP, 55 H, 78 K, 12 BB, .217 AVE)
SP Brad Machinski, Rowan (6-2, 3.10, 72.2 IP, 84 H, 35 K, 12 BB, .285 AVE)
SP Jeff Olster, Salisbury (7-0, 3.00 ERA, 2 CG, 1 SV, 87.0 IP, 62 H, 80 K, 25 BB, .205 AVE)
UTL Pete Grasso, Salisbury (8-0, 1.47 ERA, 2 CG, 3 SV, 79.2 IP, 60 H, 82 J, 30 BB, .206 AVE)
RP Jonathon Fleckerstein, LaGrange (6-1, 1.66 ERA, 5 SV, 43.1 IP, 32 H, 44 K, 4 BB, .203 AVE)
RP Caleb Norton, Otterbein (2-0, 2.00 ERA, 9 SV, 36.0 IP, 28 H, 29 K, 7 BB, .211 AVE)