|Can Shenandoah run the table? They are just
one of a half dozen teams that are on top of the
favorites list for a trip to Iowa.
Shenandoah athletics photo
by Ryan Mossman
In 2019 the 44th national champion in Division III baseball history will be crowned, but at a new site in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. For the South Region, all teams should hope that Veterans Memorial Stadium will be more friendly to the region than Fox Cities Stadium. Only the South Region was shutout in Appleton as the last national champion from the south was crowned in 1999 in Salem, Va.
The 2019 season has some familiar powerhouse institutions bringing back loads of talent including a team that could very well have the best offense in the country in Christopher Newport. The ODAC once again will have at least three teams that could be competing in the top 25 and has the potential to be a three bid conference yet again with Roanoke, Randolph Macon and Shenandoah all poised to continue their 2018 success into the 2019 season. Teams that were on the bubble for an at-large bid, such as Berry and Piedmont, will have the bulk of their 2018 teams returning and will look to take down back-to-back USA South Champion LaGrange. Look for Methodist as another challenger in the USA South who quietly won 30 games in 2018 and returns virtually their entire team.
The Preseason Top 25 features Randolph Macon at the 5 spot, Christopher Newport slots in at #13, 2018 CAC champion Salisbury is #22, and 2018 ODAC champion Shenandoah rounds out the top 25 in the 25th spot. Berry, Piedmont, Roanoke, Methodist, and LaGrange received votes.
Greg Clifton, North Carolina Wesleyan: Clifton, who recently captured his second straight NCIHSAA State Championship at nearby Faith Christian School, takes over a storied Wesleyan program that will be celebrating the 20- and 30-year anniversaries of its two Division III National Championships next spring. Clifton served as head coach at FCS for the past seven seasons, posting a record of 133-36 and securing five conference championships. He led the Patriots to a trio of State Championship appearances in 2012, 2013, and 2016 before winning back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018. Clifton made notable improvements to Faith's baseball complex during his tenure, turning it into one of the premier NCIHSAA fields in the state.
Kenny Fleming, Averett: Fleming, the fourth ever coach in Averett baseball history returns to Danville, Va after serving as an assistant coach at Division I Army during the 2018 season. Fleming, a Virginia native, brings a plethora of baseball knowledge and experience as a former professional player who was a 30th round draft pick by the Atlanta Braves in 2010 and spent two seasons with the rookie ball team in Danville. Prior to his professional baseball career, Fleming played one season at Texas Tech and then Shelton State Community College where he was drafted from as an outfielder. Following his baseball career, he played football for Averett while finishing his undergrad and then served as a student assistant for Averett’s baseball program while finishing both his undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Jerry Schlegelmilch, Southern Virginia: Schlegelmilch returns to Southern Virginia as the head baseball coach following a tenure form 2001-2006 where he led the Knights to 57 victories. Previously, Schlegelmilch was a coach for Brigham Young University-Idaho for 11 seasons. Schlegelmilch was drafted in 1968 by the Minnesota Twins after playing for California Poly. During his professional career he played first base and outfield at the single A level for both the Wisconsin Rapids and Lynchburg Twins. He was then traded to the San Diego Padres who he played for in two seasons before going on to coach at Rio Hondo College for 17 seasons.
|The Piedmont Lions are 4-0 against the Berry Vikings
in D-III regional games following their 8-3 win on
Piedmont athletics photo by Chris Roughgarden
Games to Watch in 2019
Roanoke vs Methodist (February 9): Two 2018 30 win teams and 2019 preseason poll vote recipients face off early in the 2019 season.
No. 25 Shenandoah vs No. 11 Misericordia (February 16): Two top 25 teams face off in what could be a World Series preview.
Christopher Newport vs Roanoke (February 23-24): Two 2018 30 game winners face off with the bulk of their rosters coming back with CNU’s offense being put to the test.
No. 5 Randolph Macon vs No. 6 Rowan (March 2-3): A top 10 matchup in the season for two teams that could be facing off in the World Series in 2019.
Roanoke vs No. 25 Shenandoah (March 23): A matchup that could very well be a preview to the ODAC championship for two 2018 30 win teams with a plethora of talent returning.
No. 5 Randolph Macon vs No. 25 Shenandoah (March 30): Arguably one of the biggest rivalries in D-III that last few seasons that saw two 2018 draft picks face off with plenty of excitement.
Christopher Newport vs No. 5 Randolph Macon (April 30): A 2018 South region final rematch for two teams that could be back in that situation again in the postseason. These two teams played on February 26th and a sweep by either will be key if the winner has to look for an at-large bid to the NCAA playoffs.
Capital Athletic Conference: Closing in on win number 500 for his career, head coach John Harvell’s club is the favorite to win the CAC in 2019. No. 13 Christopher Newport (35-12) returns seven hitters including Second-Team Preseason All-American senior third baseman Seth Woodard (.386/.511/.705, 30 XBH). Woodard has plenty of help around him with top hitters such as senior outfielder Jordan Mason (.312/.384/.381, 20 SB), senior first baseman Nick Baham (.270/.348/.475,21 XBH), and junior middle infielder Nick DiNapoli (.357/.429/.536) all returning. Pitching is certainly a question for the Captains as the South Region runner-up lost both of its top starters, but they do return two very experienced sophomore starters in Josh Husby (49 IP, 52 K, 2.76 ERA) and Gray Goodrich (45 IP, 39 K, 5.20 ERA). CNU looks to have two very good back end pitchers in junior Brian Owens (30 App, 50 IP, 72 K, 2.88 ERA) and senior Austin Slough (17 App, 29 IP, 33 K, 3.10 ERA).
No. 22 Salisbury (34-12) will have a tough time trying to repeat as 2019 CAC champions after losing D III’s most valuable player, starting pitcher Connor Reeves and with a staff that only returns two pitchers who threw more than 10 innings in 2018. The Seagulls hope to bolster their rotation with JUCO transfer Clayton Dwyer (72 IP, 87 K, 3.25 ERA) from Montgomery CC and other transfers such as Jason McDonough from Chesapeake CC and Zach Amisano from D II Shippensburg. Offensively the lineup returns six everyday starters including two-time All-Region and 2019 Preseason All-American third baseman Jack Barry (.413/.521/.687, 23 XBH) and 2018 All-Region outfielder junior Justin Meekins (.356/.450/.528, 17 XBH, 21 SB). Other key contributors to the lineup are senior designated hitter Jack Decker (.367/.471/.414), junior catcher Matt Padeway (.317/.431/.545). Junior transfer Brandon Bonesteel (.396/.492/.712 20 XBH) from Ulster County and Campbell transfer Jimmy Monaghan look to provide depth to an experienced lineup.
|Bret Williams led the Penn.-State Harrisburh Lions
offensively batting .365 with 66 hits including 10
doubles, 4 triples, and 14 home runs.
Penn State Harrisburg athletics photo
Penn St. Harrisburg (31-14) will look to build upon a fantastic season where they unfortunately were not awarded an at-large bid. The Lions will look to their offense led by one of the best outfield in the country junior Bret Williams (.365/.438/.696, 14 HR, 17 SB). Providing offensive depth will be sophomore Chase Smith (.285/.420/.473, 16 XBH, 18 SB) and senior Miguel Torres (.337/.361/.470). Frostburg St. (23-14) will have to dig deep to replace their top two arms, but look for senior infielder Nick Fuhrmann (.299/.397/.470) to led the offense.
York (20-19-1) will try to take a step forward in 2019 with returning bats such as senior outfielder Grant Oberholtzer (.407/.483/.599), CAC Rookie of the Year Jack Berry (.333/.432/.590) and senior Garrett Southern (.333/.428/.472). On the mound the Spartans will look for big years from senior pitcher Bobby Kuehn (47 IP, 35 K), Will Grega (52.2 IP, 37 K, 4.31 ERA), and Jeff Noss (36 IP, 39 K, 4.00 ERA). Looking to bounce back will be Mary Washington (19-17) with key returners in senior Stephen Johnson (.361/.447/.496) and junior Christian Hague (.352/.429/.547). Look for Norfolk St. transferring senior Marcel Barrett to make a big splash on the mound and at the plate for the Eagles.
Southern Virginia (18-18) and St. Mary’s (MD) (11-20) will both be fighting for one of the six playoff spots in 2019. Southern Virginia brings back top bat sophomore Canon Anderson (.365/.425/.670) and St. Mary’s will turn to returner junior Jay Hammet (.390/.452/.559) to led the charge for their respective clubs.
Team to beat: Christopher Newport
Old Dominion Athletic Conference: No. 5 Randolph Macon (38-9) will bring back plenty of experience from their 2018 World Series team including one of the top returning arms in the country in senior Nick Roth III (89 IP, 8 BB, 78 K, 3.13 ERA). Roth did not walk a batter in his first 44 innings pitched last season and beat nationally ranked Shenandoah, Deninson, Alvernia, Oswego St. and threw six innings of one-run ball against Rowan as well in 2018. A big season is in the works for Roth who will have no problem stepping up after RMC lost junior Colin Selby to the draft. Also, returning to the rotation are juniors Michael Zubovich (46.2 IP, 37 K, 3.70 ERA), and Matthew Nickles (46.2 IP, 38K, 3.31 ERA). Offensively the Yellow Jackets return five of their regulars including All-Region junior outfielder Ryan Duphorn (.372/.516/.482, 44 BB, 25 SB), senior second baseman Jeff Butler (.347/.417/.513, 8 HR), All-Region junior catcher Reece Yeargain (.313/.403/.524, 8 HR), junior third baseman Michael Nickles (.297/.396/.523, 9 HR) and junior shortstop Michael Evans (.257/.386/.342, 30 BB).
No. 25 Shenandoah ran through the 2018 ODAC tournament to get an automatic bid after going 5-0 in tournament play. Head coach Kevin Anderson’s club has been in a regional each of the last five years and will return six everyday hitters, two of which are closing in on 200 career hits in second baseman Tristan Baker (.351/.453/.405, 35 BB, 14 SB) and first baseman Luke Nussman (.342/.401/.540, 23 XBH). The Hornets also will look to have 2019 Preseason All-American designated hitter Keegan Woolford (.347/.440/.653, 31 XBH) leading the offense with support from junior All-Region outfielder Grant Thompson (.353/.466/.485, 33 BB), sophomore outfielder Henry Delavergne (.320/.413/.494, 22 XBH, 12 SB) and senior shortstop Robbie Marcelle (.367/.475/.424, 21 SB). Pitching will be a question for the Hornets, but look for senior Robert Klinchock (65 IP, 44K) to make a big step forward and Gerard DePhillips (41 IP, 23K) to rebound after a tough sophomore campaign.
|Roanoke has won 30 gmes in each of the last two
Roanoke athletics photo
Roanoke (31-11) fell in extras for the ODAC championship and was left out of receiving an at-large bid, but they return a lot of experience to build on last season’s success. On the mound the Maroons will look to senior Matthew Franklin (43.1 IP, 32 K, 4.8 ERA), senior Ben West (43.1 IP, 43 K, 3.76) and sophomore Fletcher Mazzola (35.1 IP, 31K, 2.56 ERA). The depth in the bullpen for the Maroons will make it hard to steal a game late with Cam Eck (21 App, 29.2 IP, 28 K, 3.39 ERA), Kevin Ledford (17 App, 27.2 IP, 28 K, 1.65 ERA) and Sal Trancucci (21 App, 27.2 IP, 27 K, 0.99 ERA). Offensively, Roanoke will return top bat junior third baseman Jack Howard (.348/.455/.481, 30 BB) along with sophomore designated hitter Will Salva (.329/.373/.500).
Virginia Wesleyan (31-16) will have their hands full trying to repeat their deep run into the NCAA playoffs last season with departure of many key contributors. The Marlins will be lead by 2019 Preseason All-American junior utility player Jacob Pilarski (.308/.383/.500, 92 IP/80 K/2.15 ERA). Also, returning to the lineup are senior Brady Fallon (.333/.404/.480, 16 SB) and junior Zack Clark (.289/.379/.394, 12 SB). Hampden-Sydney (17-21) has a lot to be excited about with a lot of experienced and talented players returning for the 2019 season. Offensively the Tigers return top bats including juniors Chase Counts (.385/.449/.510), Andrew Kasiski (.333/.438/.381) as well as utility player Jonathan Triesler (.320/.368/.456/29 IP/22K). On the mound, HSC will return their entire rotation from 2018 including top arms junior Chase Mayberry (43.1 IP, 37K, 4.18 ERA) and sophomore Nic Graziano (53.2 IP, 40K, 4.40 ERA).
Guilford (20-20-1) will look to lead their charge back into the ODAC tournament behind one of the best utility players in the conference, senior Mitchell Stumpo (.301/.388/.372/64.2 IP/4 9 K). Bridgewater (Va.) (19-20-1) will return junior Jacob Talley (.359/.418/.425) offensively along with two of their top senior arms coming back in Chad Lenz (47.1 IP, 51 K) and Andrew Berry (53 IP, 63 K) to help with their push into the ODAC tournament. Eastern Mennonite (15-24) is going to make a push soon with the way their coaching staff is challenging themselves and their team in player development. Look for Daniel Scott (.273/.386/.468) to make a splash for EMU in his final season. Washington & Lee (14-23) seniors Chadwick Feeley (.347/.417/.422) and Danny Devereux (17 App, 40.1 IP, 34 K, 3.59 ERA) to carry the load for the Generals this spring.
Lynchburg (16-24) will be fighting for a spot in the ODAC tournament and will look to be lead by senior Thomas Powell (.279/.430/.336) as well as their three top rotation arms who are back for the 2019 season. Emory & Henry (11-21) returns seniors Daulton Horne (.324/.463/.410) and Ben Sexton (.375/.405/.458) who will anchor the lineup for the Jackets. Newcomer to the ODAC from the USA South Ferrum (17-24) will look to make a splash in their first season behind junior Garrett Dorton (.379/.435/.549) and senior Nathaniel Anthony (.367/.430/.490).
Team to Beat: Shenandoah
|Berry head coach David Beasley could be taking
several gatorade showers in 2019.
Berry athletics photo
Southern Athletic Association: Berry (29-13) returns some of the best offensive and pitching performers for the SAA from 2018. On the mound, junior Ben Coker (74.2 IP, 66 K, 4.25 ERA) will look to take a big step forward in 2019 and he will be backed by one of the best utility players in the country, sophomore Spence Johns (.415/.467/.500, 29.1 IP, 27 K, 3.09 ERA). Head coach Beasley will look for two-way player Dylan Beasley (40 IP, 38 K, 3.83 ERA) and J.T. Eggert (27.1 IP, 40 K) to take big steps forward to provide further depth in this rotation. On the back end Berry can hand it off to in senior William Gibbons (22 App, 35.2 IP, 48 K). Offensively eight players return who registered at least 100 plate appearances in 2018 including their big impact bat in junior Tyler Calvert (.342/.412/.599). Berry will have look for junior Zack Walch (.377/.481/.446), senior Casey Whitaker (.346/.433/.444), senior Devin Post (.399/.444/.490), junior Dylan Beasley (.290/.344/.338) and junior Quinn Smith (.373/.401/.507) to bring a lot of firepower to this deep Berry lineup.
No. 24 Rhodes (32-16) will look to defend it’s SAA crown and the Lynx bring back a lot of talent to do so. Going into the 2019 season Rhodes will turn to senior Preseason All-American Nick Bosma (.286/.356/.643, 43.2 IP/32 K/2.92 ERA) to lead the team on both the offensive and defensive side. Coming back is someone who brings a lot of value offensively and defensively in junior outfielder Paul Giacomazzi (.371/.436/.425). Giacomazzi has won a gold glove in each of his first two seasons, the first player to do so. Also, returning are top bats senior Jacob Telli (.364/.513/.483) and sophomore Will Heurtin (.302/.348/.473). On the pitching side, Bosma will anchor the bullpen, but the Lynx will turn to junior Trey Sledge (86.1 IP, 82 K, 3.97) to be the top arm in the rotation. Also, look for John Medich (26.1 IP, 30 K, 4.83) as someone who could make a step forward to provide depth for the pitching staff.
Birmingham Southern (22-18) will look to bounce back after a tough 2018 season and will return plenty of experience with over 300 innings on the mound and 1300 plate appearances returning. All six of the players who return to the panthers lineup were underclassman in '18 including top bat junior Will Toner (.329/.420/.541, 7 HR) and top utility player junior Rich Misischia (.319/.438/.336, 31.2 IP/42 K). Look for top returning pitcher junior Jake Cook (66.2 IP, 49 K, 2.58 ERA) to led the Panther’s rotation. Millsaps (25-19) will look to once again compete for the 2019 SAA crown and are led by junior Connor Woodal (.299/.423/.372). Look for senior Brennan Ducote (.375/.448/.594) to be a bat that could make a big splash in 2019 after having a lot of success in just 116 plate appearances. The Majors return two rotation arms who they will once again turn to in juniors Barrett Kaul (52.1 IP, 39 K, 4.49 ERA) and Langston Haden (46.1 IP, 37 K, 4.10 ERA).
Centre (17-22) is a team that could see a big step forward in 2019 with six hitters with over 120 plate appearances and a lot of innings on the bump coming back. Look for utility player senior Drew Schacht (.346/.409/.385, 35.2 IP, 30 K, 2.56 ERA) to lead Centre this upcoming season. The Colonels also return top bat senior Mason Falbo (.346/.421/.504) who will be a good middle of the order stick. Oglethorpe (24-18) will try to build on a solid 2018 season and will lean heavily on one of the top bats in the south region in senior 1B Andrew Mink (.462/.538/.727, 7 HR) as well as top returning arms senior Kyle Babb (60 IP, 37 K, 5.10 ERA) and junior Noah Cole (59 IP, 41 K, 5.64 ERA).
The Hendrix Warriors (12-17) will look to turn the page on the 2018 season and will be led by two of the best returning bats in seniors Jorge Leon (.342/.449/.411) and Tanner Cooper (.331/.424/.412). Sewanee (12-22) returns top arm sophomore Trey Holland (42.1 IP, 31 K, 3.42 ERA) and top bat junior Jared Demkowicz (.308/.459/.558).
Team to Beat: Rhodes
|LaGrange, the two-time USA South tournament
champs, are picked to finish second in their
LaGrange athletics photo
USA South: No team in the USA South was ranked in the Preseason Top 25 despite having four teams who won thirty or more games during the 2018 season. LaGrange (30-18) will look to defend it’s back to back USA South crowns and has plenty of depth returning to do so. The lineup in 2019 will return six everyday mainstays including USA South ROY third baseman Jack Layrisson (.337/.421/.531), who was one of the top freshman in the country, as well as senior Jacob Grassert (.338/.416/.484) and sophomore Mckinley Erves (.331/.411/.428). Sophomore Rhett Mixon (.315/.417/.363) and junior Dawson Weaver (.325/.444/.374) will be players to watch going into 2019 as both will look to build on a productive 2018 season. The rotation will bring back two starters, each of which made at least 11 starts in 2018, junior Richie Post (61 IP, 53 K, 2.95 ERA) and senior Austin Fain (68.1 IP, 55 K, 3.44 ERA). Top backend pitcher and All-Region reliever sophomore Gibson Bittner (23 App, 56 IP, 52 K, 1.45 ERA) returns in 2019 and will look to be the go to arm out of the pen.
Methodist (32-12) who was recently picked as the USA South favorite for 2019, won the regular season title for the conference but was unable to take home the automatic bid. Head coach Tom Austin’s crew will return arguably one of the best offenses in the country which is led by junior catcher Alex Kachler (.397/.483/.615) and junior Matthias Carter (.360/.498/.460). The Monarchs also return seven other players who recorded at least 100 plate appearances in 2018. On the pitching side, Methodist returns a lot of experience front lined by top arm junior Tyler Brown (74 IP, 46 K, 3.28 ERA). The return of top bullpen arms sophomore Will Walker (29 ⅓ IP, 28K, 2.78 ERA) and senior Thomas Dean (42.1 IP, 31 K, 3.21 ERA) will provide experienced stoppers late in the ball game.
Piedmont (30-14) came in at third in the USA South preseason poll and received some first place votes, rightfully so. The team will feature both of it’s top bats in senior outfielder Brady Ballstadt (.397/.465/.652, 28 XBH, 32 SB) and senior first baseman Andrew Burden (.405/.514/.571, 22 SB). This heart of the order duo will pack plenty of punch and speed. The Lions also will look to junior Sam Carpenter (79 IP, 71 K, 2.73 ERA) and junior David Craft (69.2 IP, 59 K, 4.55 ERA) in their rotation and senior Bryan Whitacre (26.1 IP, 28K, 3.10 ERA) on the back end to shut the door. Maryville (26-13) will look to continue their 2018 success in the upcoming season. Top bat junior Alden Wright (.325/.401/.452) and junior Hayden Hollingsworth (.271/.390/.306). Maryville will look to senior Christian Poulsen (62 IP, 24 K, 2.61 ERA) and junior Anthony Rodriguez (52.2 IP, 45 K, 5.34 ERA) to anchor the staff.
|Tyler Price appeared in 37 games and had a team
leading 28 RBI.
Greensboro athletics photo
Huntingdon (22-18) returns over 300 innings of experience from 2018 including rotation arms junior Carden Mellown (82 IP, 79 K, 3.07 ERA) and junior Brooks Freeman (69 IP, 58 K, 3.26 ERA). Offensively junior Wes Powell (.316/.446/.381) and senior Will Crosby (.297/.454/.384) will be key contributors for the Hawks. N.C. Wesleyan (22-23) will return eight everyday bats with at least 140 plate appearances including senior utility player Nate Gardner (.280/.325/.350, 77 IP, 66 K, 3.39 ERA). Look for top returning offensive player junior Brad Pennington (.285/.395/.449, 5 HR) and senior Max Johnson (.288/.390/.538, 8 HR) to provide fire power in the lineup. The Bishops could be a team that surprises in 2019 as a sleeper in the conference.
Greensboro (18-19) returns senior Tyler Price (.281/.425/.372) and four other regulars from the 2018 lineup. Senior Will Hicks (78 IP, 53 K, 4.38 ERA) will anchor the pitching staff as the Pride make a push for a playoff spot this spring. William Peace (19-19) who was picked to finish ninth in the USA South will return top bat senior Alec Allred (.395/.476/.492). Covenant (13-25) will need senior Matt Reitz (53.2 IP, 49 K) to take a big step forward and junior CJ Edmund (.300/.383/.491) to anchor the lineup to help push for a playoff spot. Averett (10-28) returns two key bats in senior Kyle Vidano (.365/.447/.419) and senior Neil Hutchens (.291/.381/.331) along with top rotation arms senior Matt Tuggle (40.2 IP, 39 K, 5.37 ERA) and sophomore Ryan Traylor (49.2 IP, 35 K, 5.85 ERA).
Team to Beat: Methodist
University Athletic Association: The Emory Eagles (20-18) will look to bounce back following their first season without a postseason appearance in four years. The Eagles will be lead by junior Richard Brereton (.320/.383/.467, 70 IP, 66 K, 3.60 ERA) who looks to be a sleeper for DIII player of the Year. Brereton was UAA first team and a D3baseball.com Third-Team South Region utility player who built upon his stellar sophomore campaign with an excellent summer in the Futures League. Brereton will have his battery-mate junior Jacob Greene (.273/.388/.394, 5 XBH), a transfer from D-I Georgia Southern, who came on late to the scene after a preseason injury as and will look to build on his first campaign with the Eagles. Redshirt senior Bubby Terp (.321/.395/.414, 10 XBH) will bring a steady bat who was twice a two-time First-Team UAA first baseman as well as a 2016 South regional MVP. The Eagles will have their hands full trying to be the champion of the UAA and they will need big improvements from sophomore outfielder Jake Rubenstein (.286/.398/.357, 7 XBH, 14 HBP), junior third baseman Chris Stern (.328/.388/.460) and junior Jamie Robertson (45 IP, 37 K, 4.60 ERA).