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College  | Rankings  | 2/1/2021

2021 Division III College Preview

Nick Herfordt      Brian Sakowski     
Photo: Rob Marinec (North Central College Athletics)
2021 College Preview Index

 | @_eephuspitch (Nick Herfordt) | @B_Sakowski_PG

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 capsule 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.

Last year the Webster Gorlocks were the clear-cut No. 1 team in the preseason, and for good reason. Returning to campus were seven position starters, five of six top pitchers and 27 lettermen from a team that had won its 13th consecutive St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season title and went a combined 8-1 during the SLIAC conference tournament, NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals play. They had multiple All Americans on the roster and additionally armed with motivation following a too early exit in the NCAA Division III World Series courtesy of a pair of one-run losses. 

Nevertheless, Webster did not play like a top team last spring. 

The Gorlocks stumbled out of the blocks with a lackluster 8-5 record which included a 5-15 mercy rule loss. The offense, which had hit .301 and slugged .421 in 2019, slumped significantly and was down to .282 and .333 numbers, respectively. The pitching staff, which had baffled opposition and held batters to a scant .236 average and 2.86 earned runs per game, was now allowing clubs to hit .258 and score 3.95 earned runs per contest. The team was supposed to be getting better, not markedly worse. 

With the NCAA allowing a one-year extension of eligibility due to COVID, the bulk of the team from last season, which is more or less the same team which won 37 games and earned a fourth trip in eight years to the D-III World Series in 2019, is back for another run.  They now are another year older and more experienced, and will be looking to prove that last year’s pallid performance was an aberration and not the expectation. 

There is little doubt that Webster has national title caliber talent. The only question is if they can produce a national title result. Look for WU to correct last season’s missteps and return to their winning ways with another trip to the final eight. 

2021 Perfect Game NCAA Division III Preseason Top 25

Rk. School State 2020 Record 20 Final Rk.
1 Webster Gorloks MO 8-5 15
2 Southern Maine Huskies ME 0-1 6
3 Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets VA 15-1 1
4 UW-Whitewater Warhawks WI 2-1 2
5 Cal Lutheran Kingsmen CA 16-1 4
6 North Central Cardinals IL 7-0 3
7 Concordia Tornados TX 11-5 10
8 Cortland State Red Dragons NY 4-7 NR
9 Trinity Tigers TX 11-2 11
10 Adrian Bulldogs MI 4-7 NR
11 Texas Lutheran Bulldogs TX 9-4 14
12 Chapman Panthers CA 12-3 19
13 Johns Hopkins Blue Jays MD 9-3 NR
14 Shenandoah Hornets VA 10-1 12
15 Salisbury Seagulls MD 803 13
16 Washington Bears MO 9-3 7
17 Kean Cougars NJ 8-2 NR
18 UMass-Boston Beacons MA 3-1 5
19 Rowan Profs NJ 6-0 16
20 Spalding Eagles KY 11-3 9
21 Babson Beavers MA 2-1 8
22 Heidelberg Student Princes OH 7-5 20
23 Concordia University Chicago Cougars IL 5-5 25
24 Tufts Jumbos MA 0-0 23
25 Christopher Newport Captains VA 10-4 NR

1. Webster Gorloks

Third baseman Ben Swords has slashed .359/.437/.537 over his first three years as a Gorlock and earned such accolades as First Team All St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, ABCA/Rawlings First Team All Central Region and All American honors. He will be back to lead the offense once again. On the other side of the infield, Kyler Kent will be playing his fifth year as a regular. Kent has hit .338 over 136 games at Webster. His best season was as a sophomore when he hit .428 and slugged .608. Matt Staker is another experienced starter with 111 games under his belt as the team’s shortstop. He provides excellent defense and offense for the team. Outfielder AJ Smith is a sixth-year senior. He was second on the team among regulars in batting with a .342 average in 2019 and hit .304 last season. Aron Hopp, who also plays on the Webster basketball team, started all 50 games in center field and stole 23 bases in 2019. 

Matt Mulhearn and Sean Beaver are the aces of the Webster staff. Mullhearn has thrown 246 innings over four seasons and earned a 2.60 ERA. Last season he held opposition to a .180 batting average over 28 innings. A big chunk of those innings came courtesy of what was technically one outing split over a week’s time. He was credited with throwing 12 innings as he completed a suspended game which he started. Beaver has been a regular in the rotation for three seasons and has earned a 2.00 ERA over 162 innings on the mound. He has thrown four complete games, stuck out 146 batters and limited opposition to a .234 batting average. Hard-throwing Andrew Padilla has 30 2/3 innings of experience and is penciled in for a starting role. He has been hit around a bit and has struggled with control historically, but also puts up good strikeout numbers. Cooper Hake, who pitched at UI South Bend before transferring to WU, should round out the staff. Jake Anderson and Jordan Smevoll will be looked upon to close games out in the later innings. Transfer Deven Shulstad made 24 appearances out of the bullpen at Florida A&M in 2018 and made eight appearances at Harris-Stowe State in 2020.

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