|Johns Hopkins lefthanded starter Alex Ross made
a team-leading 12 starts last season, earning a
3-2 record on the mound.
Johns Hopkins athletics photo
by Jim Dixon
The shutout of Mid-Atlantic teams in the D-III World Series notched another year as Wheaton (Mass.) took the regional crown to Appleton. The favorites are all familiar faces to the national stage with the Blue Jays of Johns Hopkins opening up as the preseason favorite to make it back to Appleton's final year as host of the D-III World Series.
TCNJ made it back to the spotlight in 2017 and returns a strong contender for both conference and regional supremacy. They will have plenty of company in the NJAC as Rowan, Kean, and Ramapo all have their eye on the automatic pass into the NCAA Regional playoffs.
Keystone's path to the regional round should be clear but the rest of the conferences will have two-three team races for the top of their conferences. Arcadia will have to prove 2017 was no fluke in a contest with Alvernia. Catholic and Susquehana will battle for the Landmark crown but it the MAC Freedom conference that could see a contender for a regional title. Miseriscordia and DeSales will have plenty in the tank and the winner could find themselves taking a trip to Wisconsin.
Adam Scheibley, Elizabethtown: Scheibley's passion for Elizabethtown baseball was on display each time he took the field for the Blue Jays as a student-athlete. He'll get to rekindle that passion in a new role after being announced as the 10th head coach in program history. "The time I spent as a student-athlete and assistant coach at Elizabethtown is something that has had a lasting impact on my life," said Sheibley.
Michael Impellittiere, Hood: Impellittiere, selected after a national search, spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach for the Blazers. This past season, he helped lead Hood to a 20-win season in just the third year of existence for the program. Impellittiere arrived at Hood after a two-year stint as an assistant baseball coach at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Tom Gibboney, Juniata: Gibboney is no stranger to Juniata as he has mentored student-athletes here for over 16 years. This will be his third time as a part of the baseball team. He had a three-year term from 1996-1998 under Bill Berrier (most wins in program history) and a six-year stint with the baseball program from 2006-2011. He was an assistant to George Zanic (second most wins in program history) for the 2006 & 2007 seasons before becoming the head coach in 2008. Prior to Juniata, he had a distinguished 10-year run (1995-2005) as the head coach at Huntingdon Area High School.
Josh Copskey, Penn State Abington: Copskey enters his first season as the helm for the Nittany Lions following one of the most prolific coaches in Penn State Abington history in Joe Pavlow. "I am tremendously excited for this opportunity to lead the Penn State University-Abington baseball program in the coming years. I am looking to grow and strengthen the program, take the team to new heights and make the University and entire Nittany Lion community proud," said Copskey. Copskey comes from regional baseball powerhouse Rutgers-Camden and played a vital role in the revival of the program. In his four years assisting the program, Copskey helped transform Rutgers-Camden into contenders.
|Dave Gage, Stevenson's new head coach, came
to the Mustangs from the same position at
Stevenson athletics photo
Dave Gage, Stevenson: Gage, previously the head baseball coach at Southern Vermont became the third baseball coach in Mustang program history. "The program has tremendous potential on and off the field, and I am excited to continue to build a program that can reach that level," said Gage.
Cory Beddick, Washington College: Beddick, a graduate of fellow Centennial Conference school Gettysburg, comes to Chestertown from Hood, where he served as that institution's first-ever head baseball coach and turned the Blazers into a competitive team in just three seasons. He was named the 2016 MAC Commonwealth Coach of the Year. Beddick replaces Matt Reynolds, who was named the head coach at his alma mater, Division I UMass, last month.
Games to Watch in 2018
February 24: Misericordia opens their season at No 12 Shenandoah.
March 2: Battle of Top 25 teams as Johns Hopkins hosts Keystone.
March 30-31: Catholic and Susquehanna plays a three game Landmark series.
April 6-10: Alvernia travels to Arcadia for a MAC Commonwealth showdown.
April 7: Last years top NJAC teams clash as TCNJ plays at Ramapo.
April 14: Haverford hosts Johns Hopkins in key Centennial contest.
May 5: Late NEAC doubleheader between Penn State-Berks and Penn College.
Centennial Conference: Coach Bob Babb, the dean of Mid-Atlantic coaches, has No. 8 Johns Hopkins (38-8) one of the favorites to take the regional title in May. Pitching will be the strength of the Blue Jays as graduating pitchers accounted for only 32 innings. Alex Ross (3-2, 3.18 ERA, 83 K), Josh Hejka (4-1, 2.04 ERA, 29 K), and Preston Betz (5-2, 3.06 ERA, 35 K) will top a staff that held the opposition to 2.2 earned runs/game. The offense and defense will need to catch up as Johns Hopkins said goodbye to their starting catcher, shortstop and centerfielder. Senior third baseman Mike Smith (.350, 3 HR, 34 RBI) is the top returner as fellow classmate Alex Darwiche (.257, 3 HR, 22 RBI) takes on the catching duties full time.
|Haverford's Ethan Lee Tyson was at the top of
nearly every offensive catagory in 2017.
Haverford athletics photo
Haverford (20-16-1) is a strong contender, not only for the conference championship but a regional playoff ticket. Back are the top of the rotation and six of their seven top batters. The rotation of Tom Phillips (2-2, 4.03 ERA, 20 K), Dylan Livingston (4-1, 3.04 ERA, 30 K), and Brandon Jenkens (3-1, 3.06 ERA, 29 K) will for the core of the Ford's rotation not only in 2018 but next year as well. The offense is also senior laden but it is junior centerfielder Ethan Lee Tyson (.400, 8 HR, 32 RBI) who led the team in 2017. Joining Tyson is fellow All-Region performer senior shortstop Ben Furlong (.301, 10 HR, 37 RBI).
Ursinus (25-16) and Gettysburg (22-17-2) will contend for the third place in the standings. Gettyburg's outfielder and D3baseball.com Preseason All-American Chuck Probst (.394, 7 HR, 33 RBI) will to get the Bullets to the CC playoffs for the fifth time in six years. The team opens its 2018 campaign when it visits Hood in March.
Finishing just outside of the conference tournament spots were Franklin & Marshall (21-18-1), Swarthmore (16-22), and Dickinson (20-20). The Blue Jays and Fords have had a lock on the top spots lately but one member of this group should advance to the end of the season tournament and a chance for a pass into the NCAA regional round. F&M will find a big hole in their offense but will have plenty of pitching back to start the season. A big addition to the Diplomat's squad is Kengo Kawahara. A plus defender transfer from the University of Maryland, he has the ability to hit for power and add to the F&M's speed game.
Muhlenberg (16-21), Washington College (15-23), and McDaniel (13-22) ended at the bottom of the Centennial standings. the Mules of Muhlenberg should be improved with their recruiting class that added some arms to a pitching staff that returns junior RJ Hennessey (2-3, 3.95 ERA, 32 K) and Timmy Pilrun (3-2, 4.32 ERA, 28 K). Washington College will start the season with a new head coach with a mix of freshmen and veterans as they battle for a spot in the conference tournament. Sophomore Ryan Zwier (.315, 3 HR, 11 RBI) is ready for a breakout season for the Shoremen.
TEAM TO BEAT: Johns Hopkins
Colonial States Athletic Conference: No. 13 Keystone (33-15) has made the NCAA regional playoffs in every year they have been eligible with ten straight appearances, the fourth longest active streak. Head coach Jamie Shevchik has always had a team with a large number of junior college transfers and it is no surprise that their best player and top starting pitcher Troy Terzi (9-0, 2.45, 94 K, CSAC Pitcher of the Year) came via this route. Four Giants on offense also earned All-Region honors but only Anthony Ferrezza (.374, 50 R, 26 RBI, 11 SB) returns but you can bet Shevchik has already reloaded the roster for another title run.
Immaculata (26-12), Neumann (21-18), and Gwynedd Mercy (23-16-1) made the conference playoffs each of the last five years, finishing behind Keystone every time and nothing is expected to change in 2018. Although the Giants dominated the post-season awards, Neumann's Cody MacNair (.387, 3 HR, 31 RBI) returns with first team All-CSAC honors last year. All-CSAC utility player Nick Mulvey (.365, 3 HR, 22 RBI) returns for Gwynedd Mercy.
Marywood (14-22), Cairn (17-17), Cabrini (10-22) and Centenary (5-25) will look to improve on the appearance at the bottom of the conference standings. Cabrini will be more experienced in 2018 with a trio of game changers. Senior Dylan Butler (.288, 6 HR, 23 RBI), and Junior Tyler Norris (.365, 1 HR, 14 RBI) return from last year and John Lindeborn is new to the team as a junior transfer.
TEAM TO BEAT: Keystone
|Catholic's Brennan Cotter had 54 hits in 2017,
more than twice his totals for the first two years
with the Cardinals.
Catholic athletics photo
Landmark: Susquehanna (25-19) finished second in both the regular season and in the conference tournament. Bringing a young team into the 2018 season, the Crusaders will rely on their pitching to get to the top. Sophomore Bobby Grigas (5-3, 2.91 ERA, 68 K) and junior Nathan Madden (4-3, 3.24 ERA, 45 K) will anchor the rotation. Senior designated hitter Cole Luzins (.307, 4 HR, 23 RBI) will provide some leadership at the plate.
2017 regular season champion Catholic (28-14) will have seven of the starting nine and six of their seven best pitchers back in 2018. Among these returnees are three All-Landmark players in senior first baseman Brennan Cotter (.386, 8 HR, 38 RBI), junior starter Jon Mierzwa (8-1, 2.65 ERA, 90 K), and junior pitcher Mason Belcher (4-1, 3.11 ERA, 41K). Helping the pitching staff will be catcher Danny O'Hagan (.345, 1 HR, 10 RBI) was one of the best defensive backstops in the Landmark last year.
Moravian (15-21) finished just outside the four team playoffs and with eight returning position starters and a significant portion of pitching, should see their fortunes improve. look for a big year from starting pitcher Rhett Jacoby (5-0, 3.26, 52 K). The junior got a few looks in the summer by MLB scouts and was a big part of the Allentown Railers' championship year. Elizabethtown (28-17) and Drew (26-16) both made the conference tournament and Moravian is looking to knock off one to get the Landmark tourament.
Scranton (19-19) and Juniata (6-33) finished at the end of the standings. If the Scranton pitching stays healthy and the sophomore arms show improvement from last season, the Royals could have a title shot. leading the offense are seniors Tommy Trotter (.346, 29 RBI, 11 SB) and Chase Standen (.400, 2 HR, 26 RBI). Trotter will need only 42 hits to reach 200 for his career.
TEAM TO BEAT: Catholic
MAC Commonwealth: Arcadia (33-13) took a big step forward in 2017 with a program wins record and an spot in the NCAA Regional tournament. Look to see the Knights stay atop the conference with rival Alvernia. Pitching will carry Arcadia in the early days as the offense gels with some big shoes to fill among their bats. Senior Jake Lloyd (3-1, 3.10 ERA, 58 K) and sophomore Jeremy Sabathne (3-3, 2.85 ERA, 23 K) will head he staff with senior Connor Laigie (2-1, 2 SV, 0.88 ERA, 21 K) waiting in the bullpen. Junior Bryan Gillen (.411, 3 HR, 25 RBI) will showcase his defensive skills in the outfield at the Knights top returner on offense.
Alvernia (30-15-2) got unexpected competition in 2017 last year but should stay at the top of the MAC Commonwealth standings. Three D3baseball.com All-Region performers return including the MAC Commonweath Player of the Year, Natan Sides. Sides (.433, 41 RBI, 14 SB) will be joined by Ben Dubas (.331, 8 HR, 47 RBI) to swing a bat. Junior starter John Catchmark (8-2, 2.28 ERA, 91K) will once again be the ace of the pitching staff. Thomas Malik (6-1, 3.16, 26 K) will join Catchmark for a potent 1-2 punch for the Crusaders.
Widener (26-15), Lebanon Valley (20-18), Hood (20-20), Stevenson (18-22), Messiah (16-21), and Albright (12-24) will all fight out for the final two spots in the conference playoffs. Hood has the top talent in this group with Travis Schweizer (8-1, 3.28 ERA, 31 K), Cam Esposito (.369, 13 SB, 17 RBI), and Jordan Patterson (.368, 10 2B, 34 RBI, 6 SV, 1.93 ERA) all returning after given first team All-MACC honors last spring.
TEAM TO BEAT: Alvernia
Tyler Holzapfel started all 44 games for the
MAC Freedom: It will be a two-team race in the MAC freedom as Misericordia (30-14) returns a lot of their 2017 squad. Junior Kenny Jarema (.312, 2 HR, 30 RBI) is transiting back to third base from shortstop last year and will be the offensive trigger for the Cougars. Joining Jarema in the middle of the lineup will be sophomore Tyler Holzapfel (.370, 4 HR, 38 RBI) and junior Steve Weisensee (.362, 21 RBI, 14 SB). The Misericordia rotation will feature three juniors, led by Jake Kurtz (7-1, 2.55 ERA, 45 K).
DeSales (26-16) earned top honors in the regular standings but lost the conference's automatic bid to Misericordia. The Bulldogs will stay at the top of the standings for another year. Gone are the starting catcher in Mike Kacergin and centerfielder Tommy DePaul but plenty of talent is back. The rotation will be anchored by senior Andrew Schuller (6-5, 4.01 ERA, 71 K) and a pair of juniors, Preston Amato (.401, 30 RBI) and Tommy Esparo (.312, 7 HR, 22 RBI) will be swinging hot bats.
King's (20-17) will be looking for a third consecutive 20-win season and another shot at the conference's playoff ticket. Key to their season will be Chris Rebar (.364, 8 HR, 38 RBI) a D3baseball.com Preseason All-American. over the summer, King's head coach Jerry Greeley was honored for his 900th career victory with three different organizations.
The final conference playoff bid will come from this grouping of team, Manhattanville (18-23), Eastern (14-21), FDU-Florham (12-20), Delaware Valley (15-18), and Wilkes (10-24). Eastern's Timmy Gorton (.426, 3 HR, 44 RBI), the reigning MAC Freedom Player of the Year, is the only MAC Freedom player to be named a D3baseball.com Preseason All-American and should help the Eagles as they fight with Manhattanville for a postseason bid.
TEAM TO BEAT: Misericordia
New Jersey Athletic Conference: No. 23 TCNJ (32-13) has made it back to national prominence and it is their pitching that has led the way in 2017 and will do again in 2018. Earning preseason All-American nods in January were starter Joe Cirillo (5-1, 1.48 ERA, 5 CG, 73 K) and reliever Matt Curry (9-0, 7 SV, 0.84 ERA, 27 K). In the starting nine, look for the leadership of senior shortstop Zachary Schindler (.359, 21 SB, 38 RBI).
A first-place finish and a second placing in the tournament should have gotten Ramapo (26-16) on to the regionals. After bids were announced, they were outside of the cut and this will fuel the fire for the Roadrunners this spring. A senior heavy lineup and the return of two injured pitchers should keep Ramapo at the top of the standings. Seniors Connor Walsh (.353, 1 HR, 30 RBI), Bobby Shannon (.325, 3 HR, 28 RBI), and Austin Unglaub (.325, 1 HR, 19 RBI) will welcome transfer student Anthony Rocchetti to the starting infield. Jerry D'Andrea (5-4, 2.20 ERA, 51 K) will start and Kevin Foulds (4-0, .88 ERA, 33 K) will come out of the bullpen for Ramapo.
Rowan (29-18) will be building on their regional playoff appearance last year and with key transfers to replace graduation players, the Profs are expected to finish in the upper half of the NJAC. A pair of junior starting pitchers, Danny Serreino (2-0, 3.60 ERA, 33 K) and Andrew Cartier (4-3, 2.35 ERA, 42 K), will take ace duties. Senior Monte Strickland (.336, 11 2B, 31 RBI) is Rowan's best returning hitter with transfer student Anthony Harrold (.364, 10 HR, 58 RBI) making an immediate impact.
|Senior Justin Marks (pictured) and junior Ryan
Zucker were named the 2018 captains for the
Rutgers-Newark Scarlet Raiders.
Rutgers-Newark athletics photo
Rutgers-Newark (24-15-1) will look to build on a 2017 campaign that saw them make the NJAC Championship Tournament for the first time since 2011. Seniors Anthony Perconte (.348, 1 HR, 33 RBI), Brian Boulineau (.294, 3 HR, 36 RBI), and Justin Marks (.293, 1 HR, 24 RBI) all earned All-NJAC honors for their 2017 seasons. The Scarlet Raiders will have eight matchups with nationally-ranked and NCAA Tournament squads in preparation for a second NJAC tournament appearance.
A sub-.500 conference record, their first regional missed in over a decade, are not the results that are expected of the Kean Cougars (23-19). Kean is looking to return to the top of one of the toughest conferences in the nation with nearly everyone back from the 2017 squad. On a sophomore dominated team, it is senior first baseman Matt Krupa (.321, 2 HR, 25 RBI) who will provide the leadership on a team that will be reminded over the season as Kean celebrates the tenth anniversary of their National Championship season.
William Paterson (15-21-2), Rutgers-Camden (15-23), Stockton (15-19), Montclair State (15-22), and NJCU (18-18) finished at the bottom of the standings. Rutgers-Camden will return 23 lettermen but only five of the starters. Scarlet Raptors junior second baseman Chris Jones (.346, 1 HR, 27 RBI) is on pace to break Brian Murphy's program record for hits.
TEAM TO BEAT: TCNJ
North Eastern Athletic Conference: Penn State-Abington (16-23) finished the 2017 season atop the regular season standings but fell to third in the conference tournament. To repeat as conference champs, the Nittany Lions will have new management at the top of the program as Joe Copskey takes over from long-time head coach Joe Pavlow. Sophomore Stevie Stevenson (.250, 2 HR, 23 RBI) is the lone All-NEAC performer returning to the 2018 squad.
Penn College (25-13) lost in the NEAC championship game finishing second in both the regular season and conference tourney in 2017, bouncing back from a disappointing season in 2016. Sophomore infielder Ben Flicker (.368, 2 HR, 30 RBI) made a strong debut last season as the NEAC Rookie of the Year. He will be joined this spring by fellow All-NEAC honoree Max Blair (5-2, 3.43 ERA, 48 K) as the Wildcats look for their second title in four years.
Penn State-Berks (20-21) and Keuka (17-18) earned bottom seeds in the NEAC tournament. Keuka finished 2017 five wins from the program record and will work on besting this mark in 2018. With conference tournament aspirations, the Wolfpack return 11 starters including senior outfielder Dakota Skinner (.436, 21 RBI, 7 SB) and sophomore Dave Verrett (1-1, 6 SV, 6.38 ERA, 18 K). Penn State Berks will have D3baseball.com Preseason All-American Tyler Welk (.400, 5 HR, 48 RBI) to spark their offense and their quest to be three-time conference champs.
Outside the NEAC tournament were Lancaster Bible (19-12-1), SUNY Poly (8-26), Wells (13-21), Gallaudet (9-31), and Cazenovia (4-23-1). Lancaster Bible will need to find replacements for top NEAC players SS Justin Taylor and SP Nate Burns to vault into the NEAC postseason tournament. Seniors Will Welsh (.367, 11 HR, 35 RBI), Josh Mayer (.390, 3 HR, 19 RBI), and Brandon Elliott (.358, 10 RBI) will be key for the Chargers to make the end of the season tournament.
TEAM TO BEAT: Penn State Berks
Independent: Valley Forge (8-23) has a lot of question marks on the 2018 squad and the incoming freshmen class will be looked to fill many of the holes. The Patriots will build around sophomore Cody Rak (.383, 11 2B, 26 RBI).