Ashland and Northwood are Nos. 1 and 2 in 2019 GLIAC Baseball Pre-season Coaches' Poll
Ashland finished first in a tightly-knit 2019 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Pre-Season Baseball Coaches' Poll after earning four first-place votes and 44 points. Defending GLIAC regular-season and GLIAC Tournament champion Northwood was a close second with 43 points and three first-place votes.
Davenport, which finished second in the 2018 regular-season standings and tournament, landed in the third spot with 37 points and one first-place vote.
Ashland seeks a return trip to the NCAA Tournament in the 2019 season as the Eagles bring back a majority of the squad that went 33-22 last season. The Eagles improved their win total by 13 last season from a difficult 2017 campaign. Offensively, the Eagles return eight of their 10 regulars from last season when they finished third in the GLIAC in runs scored and led the conference in doubles. All four weekend starters return to the pitching staff.
In 2018, Northwood finished 21-8 in the GLIAC and one game ahead of second-place Davenport. The Timberwolves claimed their second straight GLIAC Tournament title by edging DU, 5-4, on a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning. NU and Ashland went on the represent the GLIAC in the NCAA Tournament.
Over the past two seasons, Northwood has gone 84-29 overall. First year head coach Jake Sabol inherits a team that has a lot of experience but also has holes to fill.
Northwood junior outfield David Vinsky was a National College Baseball Writers Association All-American and all-district first-team selection in 2018. Returning D2CCA all-district second team honorees from 2018 are Northwood senior shortstop Colin McClelland, Ashland junior designated hitter Carson Mittermaier and Grand Valley senior outfielder Jacob Gleason.
Vinsky batted a league-leading .405 last season, while Gleason was fourth at .385. Top-returning pitchers include Ashland senior Devin Peters, who led the GLIAC in strikeouts with 98, and was 8-5 with a 4.32 earned run average. NU senior Jake Gross finished fifth in ERA at 4.08, and was 2-3 with 49 strikeouts.
Davenport must replace eight all-conference players, including its top four starting pitchers. In that group was Grant Wolfram, who was drafted by the Texas Rangers.
Grand Valley State finished fourth in the poll with 33 points. Rounding out the poll were Wayne State with 28 points, Saginaw Valley State with 17, Purdue Northwest 13 and Parkside nine.
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