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College | Story | 2/7/2014

2014 NCAA Division III Preview

Allan Simpson     
Photo: Case Western Reserve

Linfield, Southern Maine Expected

To Battle For D-3 Title Again in 2014

Oregon’s Linfield College defeated Southern Maine in the NCAA Division III championship game a year ago, and the two schools appear primed for another showdown tilt in 2014 as their returning cast is largely intact.

Linfield (42-8) is ranked No. 1 in Perfect Game’s pre-season look at the Top 10 Teams in D-III as it returns its entire pitching staff, along with six regulars in the field. No. 2 Southern Maine (46-10) also welcomes back six everyday players and all but one key arm.

Among the players returning for Linfield is righthander Chris Haddeland (15-1, 1.07), who spun a complete game in beating Southern Maine 4-1 in the 2013 championship game on his way to being named the D-III pitcher of the year. Also back for the Wildcats are righthanders Aaron Thomassen (12-1, 2.49), who tied for second nationally in wins, and Zach Brandon (8-2, 3.15), the team’s No. 3 starter, along with closer Justin Huckins (2-1, 2.11, 7 SV). The top three run producers are also back, led by outfielder Jake Wylie (.396-8-66), who led the team in homers, RBIs and doubles (22).

Southern Maine’s hopes of overtaking Linfield should hinge again on lefthander Logan Carman (12-1, 2.00) and righthander Andrew Richards (11-3, 1.90), along with shortstop Sam Dexter (.335-4-36, 23 2B) and outfielder Forrest Chadwick (.380-8-44, 17 2B).

While a handful of Division III schools around the country began their 2014 seasons earlier this week, Linfield is among a large number that gets started this weekend. The Wildcats open with four games in Arizona, including three contests against California schools. Southern Maine, meanwhile, doesn’t kick off its schedule until Feb. 28.

If things go according to form, Linfield and Southern Maine could meet again in this year’s D-III World Series, scheduled for May 23-27 in Appleton, Wis., where the eight-team series has been played since 2000. In that time, only one non-Northern school (California’s Chapman College in 2003) has won the national title.

Linfield earned acclaim a year ago by winning its first D-III title (the school also won NAIA World Series championships in 1966 and 1971), and gained more notoriety in the process because its coach, Scott Brosius, is the former major-league all-star and MVP of the 1998 World Series. Brosius, who played at Linfield from 1985-87, has gone 200-72 in seven seasons as head coach of the Wildcats. In 2011, Brosius also coached the United States to an 18-and-under world title.

Southern Maine is just as capably coached by Ed Flaherty, who has never had a losing season in 28 years at the helm of the Huskies and led the team to D-III national titles in 1991 and 1998. Flaherty also has a major-league connection of his own as he is the father of infielder Ryan Flaherty, who spent the last two seasons playing for the Baltimore Orioles.

It’s unclear which players in this year’s crop of Division III prospects may one day go on to play in the big leagues, but Case Western Reserve (Ohio) righthander Robert Winemiller and Wisconsin-Stevens Point righthander J.P. Feyereisen are both projected by Perfect Game to be selected in the top five rounds of the 2014 draft. The two pitchers are ranked 1-2 in PG’s look at the Top 10 prospects in the D-III ranks.

Winemiller’s emergence as a legitimate prospect is the more dramatic of the two as he was almost exclusively a light-hitting catcher in his first two years at Case Western. He opened a lot of eyes last summer while pitching for Geneva of the New York Collegiate League, even though he worked in just eight innings spread over nine relief appearances.

With a loose, live arm, a fastball that was clocked up to 94 mph and signs of a developing slider, along with a surprising aptitude for pitching, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Winemiller quickly moved onto the radar of scouts for this year’s draft. He could blossom this spring if he focuses on pitching only.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Feyereisen is more of a known commodity than Winemiller after going 7-2, 2.69 and leading Wisconsin-Stevens Point to a berth in last year’s D-III World Series. He then performed admirably during the summer, going 3-1, 1.16 with 11 saves while pitching in relief in the Northwoods League. He had excellent command of a fastball that peaked at 93-94 mph and a low-80s slider. His changeup is generally a competent third pitch when used in a starter role, and Feyereisen is the better bet of the two pitching prospects to emerge as a starter at the pro level.

NCAA Division III Top 5 Teams

RK School ST 2013 RECORD
1 *Linfield OR 42-8
2 *Southern Maine ME 46-10
3 *Wisconsin-Stevens Point WI 41-11
4 Trinity TX 40-9
5 *Kean NJ 39-13

*Participated in 2013 NCAA Division III World Series

NCAA Division III Top 10 Prospects

RK Player POS YR B-T HT WT College Hometown ST Last Drafted
1 Robert Winemiller RHP/C JR R-R 6-1 195 Case Western Reserve (Ohio) Twinsburg OH Never drafted
2 J.P. Feyereisen RHP JR R-R 6-3 210 Wisconsin-Stevens Point River Falls WI Never drafted
3 Aaron Cressley RHP JR L-R 6-1 170 Pittsburgh-Bradford Corry PA Never drafted
4 Fred Shepard LHP SR L-L 6-2 195 Amherst (Mass.) Andover MA Never drafted
5 Jamil Moquete OF SR R-R 6-3 205 Massachusetts-Boston Boston MA Never drafted
6 Ryan Kelly OF SO R-R 5-9 175 Salve Regina (R.I.) Waldwick NJ Never drafted
7 Matthew Rhodes RHP SO R-R 6-5 170 Hardin-Simmons (Texas) Hurst TX Never drafted
8 Michael Odenwaelder OF JR R-R 6-5 220 Amherst (Mass.) Goshen CT Never drafted
9 Mark Palumbo RHP SR R-R 6-2 210 SUNY Cortland Morristown NJ Never drafted
10 Collin Radack OF SR R-R 6-3 200 Hendrix (Arkansas) Conway AR Never drafted
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