2015 GLIAC BASEBALL NORTH DIVISION TEAM PREVIEWS
Grand Valley State Lakers
Head Coach: Jamie Detillion - 3rd Season
2015 North Preseason Pick: 1st (61 points - 11 First-Place Votes)
Grand Valley State enters the 2015 season seeking its fifth consecutive GLIAC regular season championship and a second straight GLIAC Tournament title. The Lakers, who are ranked 15th in the National College Baseball Writers Association Preseason Poll, return four .300 hitters, three of its top four starting pitchers and a total of 16 letterwinners from last season’s club.
Outfielder Jamie Potts, the GLIAC’s batting champion in 2014, is back for his senior season. The NCBWA Preseason All-America Second Team selection led the conference and ranked 19th in Division II with a .412 batting average a year ago. He also led the Lakers in doubles (13), triples (five) and hits (82).
Seniors Aaron Jensen and Evan Nietfeldt, the reigning GLIAC Pitcher of the Year, headline GVSU’s pitching staff, which could be its deepest to date. Jensen and Nietfeldt ranked second and third among conference hurlers with a 1.87 and 2.33 earned run average, respectively. The latter led the league with nine wins as well. Both are NCBWA Preseason All-Midwest honorees. At the helm, Jamie Detillion enters his third season as head coach of the Lakers. The two-time GLIAC Coach of the Year carries a 77-32 overall record and a 46-13 mark in conference play.
Wayne State Warriors
Head Coach: Ryan Kelley - 7th Season
2015 North Preseason Pick: 2nd (51 points - 1 First-Place Vote)
This season, the program's 75th, the Warriors rely upon a formidable one-two punch atop the rotation as senior Kyle Zimmerman and redshirt junior Alex Kinch return. Both were 2014 All-GLIAC First Team selections and received All-Midwest Region honors. Zimmerman went 8-2 last season with a 2.51 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 71.2 innings. Zimmerman also hit .337 with 37 RBI and a team-best 15 doubles. Kinch also posted an 8-2 record with a 3.58 ERA. The staff's notable loss is closer Clayton Ruch who graduates with the program record in career saves 25) and season (15).
In addition to Zimmerman, Griffin Harms will need to produce offensively in a lineup looking to replace five starters. The Warriors catalyst, junior shortstop Jeremy Carrell will miss much of the season due to offseason surgery and rehab. Junior outfielder Travis Rodery, sophomore outfielder Cole Clifton and redshirt sophomore designated hitter Spencer Church will look to aid in run production for the WSU offense in 2015. A group of 11 newcomers (nine freshman / two transfers) will look to battle for playing time and add depth the the roster. Junior infielder Aaron Loconsole comes to WSU after two seasons at Bowling Green State and junior outfielder Kevin Moore transferred from Rochester College.
Saginaw Valley State Cardinals
Head Coach: Chris Ebright - 1st Season
2015 North Preseason Pick: 3rd (41 points)
SVSU has nine seniors on the roster, including a pair of four-year starters in shortstop Chris Perkovich and outfielder Brad Schalk. Schalk was named to the 2014 All-GLIAC Second Team, batting .325 with four doubles, three triples, 25 RBI and five stolen bases. Perkovich hit .278 last year, registering a triple, four doubles, five stolen bases and 14 RBI while starting all 46 games at shortstop. Third baseman Connor Foley is back for his sophomore campaign after hitting for a team-high .346 batting average, playing in 44 games as a true freshman. Catcher Luke Valutis returns to lineup as well after batting .295 with a team-best 10 doubles and 30 RBI last season.
On the bump, the Cardinals return six pitchers from last season, including All-GLIAC Honorable Mention reliever D.J. Reetz. Reetz complied an ERA of 2.70 in 26.2 innings pitched, registering five saves and 31 strikeouts. SVSU welcomes bask junior Scott Sency and senior Andrew Tidwell in 2015, who both missed all of last year with injuries. Redshirt freshman Mike Ellenbest looks to have a strong first season on the hill after competing in the Northwoods League last summer. The Cardinals have seven new arms on the staff, four of which competed at junior colleges last season.
Head Coach: Eric Theisen - 2nd Season
2015 North Preseason Pick: 4th (24 points)
The Hillsdale College baseball program enters the 2015 season with plenty of experience coming back all around the diamond, under the guidance of second-year head coach Eric Theisen.
The Chargers welcome back much of their starting pitching rotation and batting lineup from a year ago, when the team compiled a 14-19 conference record. Led by veterans Lucas Hamelink, Ethan Wiskur and Chris McDonald, the Chargers sport a solid core of experienced starting pitchers. All-time saves leader Dan Pochmara is back and had an earned-run average of 1.35 a year ago.
Wiskur and McDonald will also be featured players in the field for Hillsdale, who figures to put together one of its deepest hitting lineups in years. Leadoff man Luke Ortel returns after setting a school record for at bats in a season in 2014. Junior Tad Sobieszczanski is back after a fantastic sophomore season which saw him bat .367 while getting named First-Team All-GLIAC. Vinny Delicata, Nolan Breymaier and Sean Bennett return after starting in the infield last year, while Connor Bartlett completes a triumvirate of returning outfielders expected to solidify the lineup.
Head Coach: Jordan Bischel - 1st Season
2015 North Preseason Pick: 5th (22 points)
Coming off an 18-27 record last season (10-21 GLIAC), the Northwood University baseball team will feature a new look for the 2015 campaign. For the first time since 1999, there will be a new head coach for the Timberwolves, as Joe Di Benedetto has now moved into an administrative roll at Northwood. New coach Jordan Bischel takes over the program after a highly successful run at Midland University in Nebraska.
Northwood will feature a roster that has large mix of newcomers. On the pitching staff, a key player for the Timberwolves will be Luke Bivens. The big right handed pitcher has been NU’s best hurler when healthy, posting a career 3.15 ERA in 12 career starts. After missing last season, Bivens appears ready to return to the rotation. Sophomore Alex Lewandowski also returns after ranking second on the team in wins last season (four). Other key returners in the staff include Sean Cunningham, Adam Kroll, and Josh Long.
Among the field position players, All-Region designated hitter Travis Smith leads the way. Smith led the team in all of the key offensive categories last season, including batting average (.375), on-base percentage (.474) and slugging (.552). Sophomore infielder Daniel Pulver had a strong freshman campaign, batting .308 while appearing in all 45 games. Infielder Dustin Lee, outfield Justin Zyvon and catcher Zyke Bailey all were key players for Northwood a year ago and are expected to have big roles for the Timberwolves again this season.
Head Coach: Stephen Parrill - 2nd Season
2015 North Preseason Pick: 6th (17 points)
The 2015 University of Findlay baseball team features a strong group of young talent led by a few seniors who look to improve on solid careers. Head Coach Steve Parrill looks to improve on last year’s 12-31 finish and hopes to do so by building a defensive brand of baseball. The Oilers, who finished tied for fifth in the GLIAC last season with a .953 fielding percentage, have built defensive depth at all positions with the acquisition of a capable freshman class and the development of key returners. With this improvement, the team expects to be a serious competitor in the newly devised GLIAC North.
The squad will need to replace a pair of All-GLIAC performers, Reid Rothenbuhler and Derek Draper, but return one of their more valuable assets from a season ago, senior Alex Williams. The right-handed pitcher, who garnered multiple post-season awards including honorable mention All-American from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, finished last season as the GLIAC’s leader with a 1.70 earned run average, solidifying his role as one of the best closers in the league. Getting to the closer is an issue the Oilers have improved upon with the return of pitchers (listed by 2014 innings pitched) senior Jon Walker, sophomore A.J. Cecil, junior Mason Mayberry, junior Jake Ireland, and senior Collin Parrill. Also helping improve the Findlay pitching staff is the acquisition of sophomore transfer Austin Rodesky, who was 3-1 last season for Urbana, and freshmen Alexander Theiss, Anthony Ondrejcak, Colin Gossard, Reid Renollet, Josh Robinson, Eric Schrand and Pete Burkett, who will also compete for time at first base.
Offensively, the Oilers return three players who amassed at least 100 plate appearances last season: sophomore outfielder Logan Harrah, sophomore shortstop Kevin Schrock, and junior catcher Jordan Garcia. Senior Tyler Donaldson also returns in the outfield, but may see action at second base as well. Competing for the other spots in the outfield will be senior Jon Shollenberger, who missed last season due to injury, sophomore slugger Austin Adams, junior Kris Hayward, and freshman Josh Schwerer. Some players expected to earn more time this season include junior catcher/designated hitter Miguel Valdez, who hit .267 in limited time last year and junior infielder/designated hitter, Chase Goulette.