Wayne State, Northwood Lead 2018 GLIAC Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll
Wayne State has been tabbed the narrow favorite prior to the start of the 2018 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) baseball season, as voted on by league coaches. The Warriors (44 pts, 3 First-Place) will begin the new campaign No. 1 in the GLIAC, while defending league champions Northwood (41 pts, 4 First-Place) and Grand Valley State (39 pts, 1 First-Place) were positioned second and third in the league.
Wayne State looks to continue their decade-long run of success under 10-year head coach Ryan Kelley whose Warriors have reached the NCAA Tournament seven times in the last 12 seasons. First Team All-GLIAC selection Brad Baldwin led the squad by hitting .359 with 41 RBI and 22 doubles, while redshirt senior Taylor Horn heads a deep pitching staff as the First Team All-GLIAC performer returns after compiling a 1.86 ERA last year.
Coming off the greatest season in school history with 46 wins and Midwest Regional hosting duties, the Northwood Timberwolves enter the 2018 season with high expectations. The defending GLIAC Regular Season and Tournament Champions welcome back two of the top pitchers in the region in defending GLIAC Pitcher of the Year Tyler Jandron and Second Team All-GLIAC selection Ian Dimitrie. At the dish, reigning GLIAC Freshman of the Year sophomore David Vinsky is back following one of the best debut seasons in NU history.
Grand Valley State is primed to return to national championship contention in 2018 following a season plagued by injuries and youthfulness. The Lakers will feature Ausitn LaDoux who hit .360 last season with seven homers and 33 RBI as a junior. On the mound, Kyle Lawson returns after getting hurt on opening day last season after leading GVSU in strikeouts in 2016. A strong freshman class will also contribute to the success of Jamie's Detillion's program this spring.
GLIAC newcomers Davenport look to feed off their 43-17 campaign and fourth consecutive NAIA Tournament appearances. NAIA Second Team All-American selection Grant Wolfram leads a talented starting rotation after he posted a 2.38 ERA in 93.1 innings with 100 strikeouts. Brian Sobieski started all 56 contests last year playing four different positions as he enters 2018 as he ranks among the all-time leaders in DU history in several statistical categories.
Ashland heads into the 2018 season poised to bounce back from a disappointing season last spring. The Eagles return their two top hitters in Vince Vanata and Kevin Browne, while Carson Mittermaier brings power to the AU lineup. AFCA Hall of Famer and AU skipper John Schaly will feature a pitching staff guided by sophomore Chance Hitchcock and junior lefty Devin Peters.
The baseball poll is rounded out by: No. 6 Tiffin, No. 7 Saginaw Valley and No. 8 Purdue Northwest.
The 2018 season gets underway Friday, February 16th when Davenport takes on Missouri Baptist with the GLIAC regular season scheduled to begin Friday, March 23rd. The GLIAC Tournament will be hosted at the newly constructed Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL) in Detroit, Mich. on May 10-13.