College | Rankings | 2/2/2018

2018 Division III College Preview

Nick Herfordt        
Photo: Matt Dilyard, The College of Wooster

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Listed below are the Preseason Top 25 teams at the NCAA Division III level followed by detailed capsules of each program and the top 25 -III prospects in regards to the MLB Draft. The rankings and the first three capsules (teams ranked 1-3) 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.

Final 2017 NCAA Divisions II and III and NAIA Rankings

This season’s Division III preseason rankings look very different compared to those in the past as a new crop of contenders are quickly stepping up to challenge the perennial powers for national supremacy. It’s no mistake that annual favorites like Birmingham Southern and Emory, as well as teams that reached last year’s D-III Baseball Championship such as Oswego State and Wheaton, are not in this year’s preseason rankings. Neither are six of the last seven schools to finish as the national champion runner-up.

Of course some of the favorites are still back, Cortland is going to be Cortland and Southern Maine is always legit. But who would’ve thought a team like Roanoke could’ve reached the final eight and be a title contender when they’d had only a pair of winning seasons in the previous 15 years? Babson too had an out-of-nowhere run as they’d historically been a perpetual middle-of-the-pack team who suddenly caught fire and won 16 of 18 to set a new school record for wins.

Furthermore, it was also just a handful of years ago that Salve Regina was floundering with a 14-27 record. Last season they won their second straight Commonwealth Coast Conference championship and established a new school mark for single-season wins.

The preseason Top 25 mimics the recent results with a near equal mix of traditional teams and up-and-coming clubs. It’s anyone’s guess if the last team standing this spring will be one of the established elite or a new kid on the block, but what is unquestioned is that is going to be another exciting season of D-III baseball. 

2018 Perfect Game NCAA Division III Preseason Top 25 Teams

Rk. 2017 School ST '17 Record
1 4 UW-Whitewater Warhawks WI 36-9
2 6 Cortland State Red Dragons NY 38-9
3 17 Wooster Fighting Scots OH 36-10
4 18 Centenary Gents LA 35-10
5 10 Concordia University Chicago Cougars IL 34-13
6 8 Shenandoah Hornets VA 41-10
7 19 La Roche Redhawks PA 34-10
8 NR UT Dallas Comets TX 33-11
9 1 Cal Lutheran Kingsmen CA 40-11
10 15 UMass-Boston Beacons MA 38-12
11 NR St. John Fisher Cardinals NY 31-12
12 13 North Central Cardinals IL 31-18
13 24 Southern Maine Huskies ME 34-13
14 5 Roanoke Maroons VA 35-19
15 NR St. Thomas Tommies MN 29-18
16 NR Alvernia Golden Wolves PA 30-15-2
17 25 Concordia Tornados TX 31-18
18 NR Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets VA 26-15
19 NR Babson Beavers MA 29-15
20 12 Salisbury Seagulls MD 35-11
21 16 Tyler Texas Patriots TX 39-9
22 NR Salve Regina Seahawks  RI 36-12
23 NR Mount Union Raiders OH 31-11
24 NR Christopher Newport Captains VA 25-15
25 NR Trinity Tigers TX 28-16
25 NR Willamette Bearcats OR 28-14

1. UW-Whitewater Warhawks
The Warhawks return six everyday starters from a lineup that batted .318, swiped over a century-worth of bases and out-slugged opposition .468 to .316. Blake Fleischman, the reigning Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Position Player of the Year, is back for his senior season along with Brett Krause and Cal Aldridge, who were nearly (if not just as) impressive at the plate as they combined to bat .361. The player who could have the biggest impact at the plate is Daytona Bryden. He was limited to 19 games last season, but when he was in action he hit .386. In 2016 he topped the team in batting, finishing at .400, and stolen bases with 24. In the offseason the team also added transfer talent in Connor Moroder and Nick Schrader who both started their college careers on D-I campuses. Nevertheless, what really makes UW-Whitewater the team to beat this spring is their sterling pair of starting pitchers, Austin Jones and Heath Renz. Both earned All American honors last season with Renz being named the Midwest Pitcher of the Year. The pair combined to earn the win in 17 games, had sub 2.00 ERA’s and held opposition to a .207 batting average. Michael Kaska excelled in spot starts and out of the bullpen last year and could be the de facto coup de grâce closer should any teams have aspirations of a late-inning comeback.

2. Cortland State Red Dragons
Head coach Joe Brown is anxious for the season to begin as he is ready to compete with a well-stocked club complete with experienced upperclassmen, a top-of-the-line recruiting class and a number of immediate impact transfers that will make another run at the D-III CWS. Senior captain and catcher Justin Teague wields one of many dangerous bats in the lineup and is one of the top professional prospects in D-III. Teague and Jack Massa, who led the team in home runs and RBI, are two of five First Team All State University of New York Athletic Conference players back in the everyday lineup. Some of the most experienced pitchers graduated, but there is another crop of ready arms ready to be harvested. Jake Casey and Andrew Barnes both impressed in mixed roles last season and look ready to take over full time starting positions. However, they’ll have to outpitch Brown’s quality cavalcade of incoming freshman and transfer recruits.

3. Wooster Fighting Scots
With the exception of their final position, Wooster spent the entirety of 2017 deservingly ranked within the top seven teams in the nation. They earned 36 wins, took home their league leading 17th North Coast Athletic Conference and hogged all the top NCAC postseason awards. This season looks like a shoo-in to be a repeat of the last, but for the Scots sake, with the exception of an unceremonious early exit from the postseason. Michael Wielansky is shaping up to be D-III’s Player of the Year as he continues his wondrous college career. Last year he topped the nation in runs and finished in the top 10 in total bases and hits. He also earned national gold glove honors for his near flawless defense. Over the summer he was the Valley Baseball League’s Player of the Year. Wielansky is one of seven everyday players back in the lineup. The pitching staff looks good, although not quite as imposing as the players at the plate. Nanak Saran topped the team in ERA, strikeouts and had an 8-0 record last season but is the only pitcher back who started at least five games. Nonetheless, Wooster’s overall situation on the mound doesn’t seem to be a concern with a wealth of arms available to take over.

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