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Friday, February 1, 2019

2019 Division III College Preview

Nick Herfordt         Brian Sakowski        
Photo: Nathan Malinovsky (Texas Lutheran Athletics)




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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 D-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 2018 NCAA Divisions II and III and NAIA Rankings

While the home of this year’s NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament has changed, the quality of baseball to be played on college campuses has not. Each of the schools listed below unquestionably has the talent for a historic season and the ability take home the D-III title this May. The teams are indeed ranked from one to twenty-five, but the difference between each position is slight. It should shock no one if any of these clubs, as well as a few others who just missed the list, find themselves crashing into the infield in Cedar Rapids once the final out is made.

Following are the top NCAA Division III teams headed into the 2019 season.


2019 Perfect Game NCAA Division III Preseason Top 25 Teams

Rk. School ST Record '18 Rk.
1 Rowan Profs NJ 35-11 9
2 Wooster Fighting Scots OH 40-10 5
3 UMass-Boston Beacons MA 37-10 7
4 Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets VA 38-9-1 3
5 Southern Maine Huskies ME 30-15 11
6 La Roche Redhawks PA 35-10-1 12
7 Texas Lutheran Bulldogs TX 42-12 2
8 Shenandoah Hornets VA 35-12 14
9 UW-Whitewater Warhawks WI 33-8 6
10 Cortland State Red Dragons NY 35-12 8
11 Swarthmore Garnet PA 38-11 18
12 Christopher Newport Captains VA 35-2 10
13 Misericordia Cougars PA 37-15 15
14 Babson Beavers MA 35-12 19
15 Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets OH 33-14 21
16 Keystone Giants PA 36-12 NR
17 Oswego State Lakers NY 30-14 13
18 Chapman Panthers CA 35-13 NR
19 Rhodes Lynx TN 32-16 24
20 Willamette Bearcats OR 31-19 NR
21 St. John Fisher Cardinals NY 29-16 NR
22 West New England Golden Bears MA 32-15 NR
23 Webster Gorloks MO 38-10 NR
24 LaGrange Panthers GA 30-18 NR
25 Case Western Spartans OH 29-10 NR


1. Rowan Profs
Last year the Profs finished the season with a 35-11 record and took home the New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship title by taking two of three from Ramapo College. With the win Rowan not only received an automatic bid to the postseason, but they also were awarded the top seed in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional. However, despite being the favorite, they were unable to advance any further in the postseason as they went 2-2 in the Mid-Atlantic Regional to have their season come to an end. Nevertheless, with plenty of power bats and able arms returning to the roster, the Profs are a favorite on the short-short list of teams favorited to advance to the D-II College World Series and bring home the national title.

Anthony Harrold and Dillon Mendel yield the biggest bats back on campus. Harrold hit .373 with 14 doubles, two triples and five home runs to finish tops on the team in slugging percentage. Mendel was equally formidable, batting .376 with 15 doubles, six triples (which tied the single season record) and a pair of home runs. Other players who will contribute greatly at the plate include second baseman Alex Kokos, who hit .325 and compiled a .971 fielding percentage at second base, and centerfielder Dan Shane, who amassed a .432 on-base percentage thanks to finishing in the top 10 nationally in walks. Shane put the free passes to good use as he was 26-for-32 on stolen base attempts. Joining the team will be Matt Woods who stated 25 games at St. Johns where he batted .261 after being an NJCAA All-American in 2017. Mitch Walker will be an additional former D-I player on the roster after redshirting at UNC Central last spring.

Three of four Rowan starting pitchers return who combined for a 22-4 record and helped the club finish the season with a fourth in the nation team 2.74 ERA. Danny Serrenino threw 79 innings last season, striking out 89 and ended the year with a teeny-tiny 1.25 ERA. He also impressively threw three complete games, two of which were shutouts, and held opponents to a minuscule .130 batting average. Andrew DiPizaza’s numbers were nearly equally as impressive. He went 7-1 with a 1.49 ERA in 10 starts, amassing 78 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings. He had opposition to a .184 batting average and tied the school record with 15 strikeouts versus Ripon College in a seven-inning masterpiece. Drew Ryback and Justin Smith will also be welcomed back to the staff. Ryback had eight starts and earned a 2.83 ERA while Smith appeared in 13 games in a mixed role, striking out 27 in 31 2/3 with three saves.


2. Wooster Scots
College of Wooster head coach Tim Pettorini is the active leader in D-III coaching wins with 1,213 (1,213-446-6) in 38 seasons, all with the Fighting Scots. He announced mid-January that he will retire as head coach of the Scots' baseball program at the conconclusion of the 2019 season. While at the helm Wooster has consistently been within outs away from claiming a national championship, but like Wile E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner, has perpetually fell short of reaching their goal. Ten years ago the Scots were twice a win away from taking home the title, but the St. Thomas Tommies won one game by taking the lead in the ninth inning and won the other in extra innings. Pettonini’s club will be going all out to make sure they have everything on the field as they try to send their coach out a winner.

Wooster returns six starting position players for Pettorini’s swan song season, with Dan Harwood and Garrett Crum offensively spearheading the group. Harwood hit .383 with 14 home runs and his 72 RBI were just one behind the D-III leader. Crum batted .365 and racked up 13 doubles as well as nine home runs. They’ll be rejoined in the lineup by Jake Stuursma, who batted .338, and Chandler Dippman, who batted. 317. As the team’s everyday second and third basemen, the two played a pivot role defensively for Wooster who led D-III with a dandy .978 fielding percentage.

On the mound, the Scots return two pitchers who started a dozen games. One of those two is the aforementioned Chandler Dippman. Dippman threw 69 2/3 innings, three compete games and earned a 2.71 ERA when he wasn’t playing third base. The other pitcher with extensive starting experience is Brian Murray. He threw 67 1/3 innings, only allowed 57 hits and had 3.61 ERA. While neither of the pair had overpowering stuff on the mound, both were more than capable at getting outs and making sure Wooster earned their wins. Andrew Hill and Evan Faxon both appeared in 17 games last season with three starts each as freshman. They’ll be looking to take on an expanded role this season, especially with the absence of Nanak Saran, last year’s ace, having graduated after the season. Colin Springer, a freshman from San Diego, could make an impact this season out of the bullpen.


3. UMass Boston Beacons
Last season, the Beacons claimed their second straight Little East Conference title as well as made back-to-back appearances in a regional title game. Their 37-10 record included 11 conference wins (which matched their program record) and they were in the top 10 of the rankings the entire season, even spending a pair of weeks in the top spot in the middle of the year. In the extended postseason the Beacons advanced deep in the Harwich Regional, but were unable to get past the Lakers of SUNY Oswego who were absolutely torrid the second half of the season.

The leading batsman back in the lineup is Ryan McCormick who transitioned from being a pinch-hitting specialist and role player into the Beacons' starting catcher. While swinging in the middle of the lineup he finished second on the team in batting average at .354 and doubles with 15. Eddie Riley had a .402 on-base percentage and provided occasional pop and brilliant defense at third base. Kyle Boudrias earned All-Conference honors for the third straight season as he finished the year with a .344 average and nine doubles. Another important defensive component back is shortstop Charlie Huegi who had a hand in turning 28 double plays and swiped 17 bases. Solidifying the defense will be infielder Ryan Colins, a transfer from Northern Essex CC, who earned All American and Golden Glove honors at shortstop.

Despite being solid on offense and defense, what truly makes the Beacons a team to beat is their pitching staff as their entire rotation is once again available in 2019. Fernando Burgos established a new program record for wins in a season (he went 9-1) and career wins (18) as he recorded the second-best ERA and opponent batting average amongst starters on the team at 3.08 and .263. The pitcher who bested him in those two categories was JT Morin who returned from an early season-ending injury in 2017 to lead the staff. He threw 57 2/3 innings and struck out 66 while only allowing 27 hits for a near unfathomable .141 opponent batting average. His ERA was 2.50 and he twice earned LEC Pitcher of the Week honors. Also back is Bobby Tramondozzi who set the program record for single season and career saves with nine and 16, respectively. He allowed one or fewer runs in 18 of his appearances, didn’t allow even a single run 15 times and finished with a 3.06 ERA. Matt Demma, who struck out 32 in 32 1/2 innings at St. Joseph’s College, and Kelly Kileen, a transfer from Franklin Pierce, will round out the staff.


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