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College  | Rankings  | 2/5/2016

2016 Division III Preview

Nick Herfordt      Andrew Krause     
Photo: Southern Maine

2016 Perfect Game College Baseball Preview Index | @PGCollegeBall | @_eephuspitch (Nick Herfordt) |  PG College Facebook Page

Listed below are the Preseason Top 25 teams at the NCAA Division III level followed by detailed capsules of each program and the top 10 D-III prospects in regards to the MLB Draft. The rankings and the first three capsules (teams ranked 23-25) are available for free, the rest is available with a College Baseball Ticket (CBT) subscription. To learn more about the College Baseball Ticket and to sign up today please visit this link.

Headed into last year’s NCAA Division III World Series, Cortland State had always been the bridesmaid, but never the bride. Twelve times before the Dragons had made the march to the final series but they were disappointingly sent home each time without championship rings. They had come close, excruciatingly close even, twice finishing as the runner-up, but fate always turned its back to them in the end.

However their 13th trip to the D-III CWS ended up being the magical end to a bittersweet, storybook season.

Cortland had been playing their games with the letters “BW” on the backs of their hats throughout the spring. The nod was a gesture to their former coach, longtime supporter and the man the Red Dragons' baseball field was named after, Bob Wallace, who had passed away during the offseason.

Once in Appleton, there was little doubt Cortland would be a final team standing. Just as they did all season long, the Dragons scorched their opposition, winning their first four games by a combined score of 44-12. Cortland was down late in the second game of the championship series, but pulled away at the end with a 6-2 win as they claimed their elusive first national title.

The Dragons dominated all season long and finished with a remarkable 45-4 record. It was a magnificent season and one for the record books. That’s real bad news for opposition. Really, really bad because Cortland State may be even better in 2016.

Coach Joe Brown welcomes back seven seasoned batters who made an offensive impact last season, highlighted by Conrad Ziemendorf who was the World Series Most Outstanding Player and batted .369 and led the team in extra-base hits. He will be backed by two players anticipated to contribute big after excelling in limited action last season, Nick Hart and Fabio Ricci. The tandem batted .430 and .400 respectively and will round out the outfield with Ziemendorf. The team also had experience at the corner infield positions and a possible breakout star of a catcher in Matt Personius who batted .452 as a freshman in 28 games.

Despite their prodigious offense, the foremost reason why the Dragons look to dominate once again is their pitching staff.  Seth Lamando is a legit ace who can put up zeroes every time he takes the mound. Last season he had a wafer thin 1.16 ERA and fanned 56 batters in only 46 2/3 innings while only allowing just 30 hits and 11 walks.  Travis Laitar was nearly hittable from the bullpen, holding opposition to a teeny-tiny .109 batting average while he struck out 26 batters in 19 1/3 innings.

Not only will they be back and rejoined by some other top-notch vets, Coach Brown has added a pair of former D-I hurlers to fill out the staff to make them even more formidable. The Dragons’ pitching staff shutout their opposition six times last season and it’s a real possibility that number could reach double-digits considering the talent on the team.

As tough-to-beat as Cortland looks this season, there are plenty of clubs who’ll be up for the challenge.

Emory, last year’s Perfect Game D-III preseason No. 1, has another phenomenal roster with top-flight hurler
Jackson Weeg who led the nation with 12 wins and nearly reached the century mark in strikeouts with 98. Webster is looking to advance to the CWS for the fourth time in five years and has a clubhouse full of experienced upperclassman led by slugger Kyle Uhrich who crushed 17 homers for the Gorlocks. Southern Maine once again has a well-rounded roster highlighted by top pro prospect Sam Dexter who be looking to win a second D-III Player of the Year honors after compiling video games numbers last season.

Also look for big seasons from St. John Fisher, Adrian and a reinvigorated St. Thomas team. Each of those schools have clubhouses full of experienced, upperclass talent which can go a long, long way in giving a team the final push and motivation in needs to be the team that dog piles in the infield when the final out is made.

2016 Perfect Game Division III Preseason Top 25 Teams

RK School ST Record 15 RK
1 Cortland State Red Dragons NY 45-4 1
2 Emory Eagles GA 31-15 4
3 Webster Gorloks MO 34-15 6
4 Trinity Tigers TX 40-14 5
5 Rhodes Lynx TN 33-13 9
6 UW La Crosse Eagles WI 36-16 8
7 Kean Cougars NJ 35-12 11
8 Southern Maine Huskies ME 32-15 21
9 Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets OH 31-12 14
10 UW Whitewater Warhawks WI 35-11 7
11 Salisbury Seagulls MD 33-6-1 3
12 Birmingham-Southern Panthers AL 37-12-1 12
13 St. Thomas Tommies MN 24-16-1 NR
14 Cal Lutheran Kingsmen CA 32-12 23
15 Shenandoah Hornets VA 28-10-1 13
16 Wooster Fighting Scots OH 36-9 25*
17 Pacific Lutheran Lutes WA 32-14 19
18 Concordia Tornados TX 31-12 20
19 Adrian Bulldogs MI 33-12 NR
20 Tyler Texas Patriots TX 34-12 15
21 UW Stevens Point Pointers WI 33-14 10
22 Concordia University Chicago IL 33-15 NR
23 St. John Fisher Cardinals NY 25-18 NR
24 Ohio Northern Polar Bears OH 30-9 NR
25 Tufts Jumbos MA 26-10 NR

25. Tufts Jumbos, New England Small College Athletic Conference

There should little separation in the NESCAC standings this season, but the Jumbos, with Tommy O’Hara in the middle of the order and a pair of quality starting arms back on the mound, have an advantage on the competition.

24. Ohio Northern Polar Bears, Ohio Athletics Conference
ONU graduated their top two run producers from last season, but much of the rest of the lineup returns. More importantly, the Polar Bears can claim an experienced, deep pitching staff with five pitchers who threw at least 25 innings.

23. St. John Fisher Cardinals, Eastern College Athletic Conference
Scott Eisenmenger and Cody WIktorski give the Cardinals plenty of punch offensively; however they won’t need to worry about carrying the team as almost the entire staff, which had a team ERA two runs less than opposition, is largely intact.

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