GREENWOOD, IN – The Franklin College baseball team has been selected as the favorite to claim the 2011 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball championship. The Grizzlies received 94 total points and five first place votes in the annual HCAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The poll collects votes from all ten head coaches in the HCAC. Manchester College collected the second most votes in the poll and finished with 89 total points and three first place votes. Anderson University finished third in the poll with 76 points and one first place vote and was followed by Transylvania University which claimed 73 points. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (61 points, one first place vote), College of Mount St. Joseph (55), Bluffton University (34), Defiance College (29), Hanover College (26), and Earlham College (13) rounded out the poll.
Franklin will be looking for its fourth HCAC baseball title as the Grizzlies enter the 2011 season. The blue and gold will be striving for the school’s fourth straight HCAC Tournament appearance this spring. Franklin finished second during the 2010 season with a 15-7 conference mark, standing two games behind conference champion Anderson. FC was 26-15 overall and was eliminated from the HCAC Tournament with an 11-9 loss to Manchester.
The Grizzlies return a host of key components from last season’s team, including three All-HCAC first team selections and the conference’s Freshman of the Year. Senior third baseman Alex Boone (Carmel, Ind./H.S.) led the squad at the plate last spring, batting .419 with 46 runs scored, 14 doubles, nine home runs, 53 RBI, and 13 stolen bases. Shortstop Nick Stoia (Camby, Ind./Decatur Central) earned the Freshman of the Year award after hitting .335 with 41 runs scored, nine doubles, and 43 RBI.
On the mound, Franklin will be led by All-HCAC first team selection Cody Nees (Cloverdale, Ind./H.S.). The senior pitcher was 4-4 on the hill last year with a 3.06 earned run average. In 19 appearances, Nees posted four saves and 38 strikeouts in 32.1 innings of work.
Manchester will be looking for the school’s fourth baseball title in 2011. The Spartans enter the season receiving votes in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Preseason Poll and will look for a return trip to the HCAC Tournament. The black and gold were the runner-up in the HCAC tournament last season, falling to Rose-Hulman 20-8 in the final. Three All-HCAC first-team selections return to lead the Spartans lineup this spring.
Senior first baseman Ty Foster (Danville, Ind./H.S.) returns after leading the Spartans at the plate last spring. Foster had a solid junior season batting .406 with 49 runs scored, 15 doubles, 14 home runs, 54 RBI, and a .744 slugging percentage. Two other big bats return to the heart of the lineup for MC as senior catcher Trey Forbes (Kendallville, Ind./East Noble) and senior designated hitter John Smolinski (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s) return for their final seasons. Forbes hit .376 with 50 runs scored, 14 doubles, and 42 RBI a year ago, while Smolinski added a .380 average with 31 runs scored, 15 doubles, and 46 RBI.
Anderson University is predicted to finish third and make a strong push for their second consecutive HCAC title. The Ravens finished with a 26-16 mark last season and posted a 17-5 conference record to earn the regular season title. Anderson will have to replace last season’s HCAC Most Valuable Player Chris Jarrett and Cody Young after losing the pair of hitters to graduation and the MLB draft. The pair combined to hit 29 home runs, 23 doubles, and score 107 runs, while hitting over .440. Senior infielder Brett Detty (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) and senior outfielder Garrett Stone (Ft. Collins, Colo./Rocky Mountain) will look to fill the void left by Jarrett and Young. Detty hit .460 as a junior with 40 runs scored, 10 doubles, and 29 RBI, while Stone added a .392 average with 39 runs, 14 doubles, 10 home runs, and 55 RBI.
The 2011 baseball season opens on February 26. The HCAC portion of the schedule will begin on March 25 with the HCAC Tournament slated for May 12-14.
2011 Baseball Players to Watch
Anderson: Garrett Stone – OF (Sr., Ft. Collins, Colo./Rocky Mountain), Brady Roundtree – IF (Sr., Anderson, Ind./Highland), Michael Tucker – C (Jr., Indianapolis, Ind./Zionsville), Brett Detty – IF (Jr., Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North), Greg Vogt – P (Jr., Indianapolis, Ind./Carmel)
Bluffton: Adrian Fritch – P (Sr., Edon, Ohio/H.S.), Kelly Barnes – P (Jr., Toledo, Ohio/Christian), Nick Broyles – SS (Jr., Toledo, Ohio/Whitmer), Tyler Stephenson – 3B (Jr., Springfield, Ohio/Northwest)
Defiance: Nick Welling – IF/DH (Jr., Bowling Green, Ohio/H.S.), Alex Timofeev – 1B (Sr., Oregon, Ohio/Clay), Zach Stallkamp – OF (Jr., Paulding, Ohio/H.S.), Nick Bratt – P (Jr., Ottawa Lake, Mich./Whiteford)
Earlham: Adam Painter – P (Sr., New Haven, Ind./Snider), Andrew Morrical – OF (Sr., Summitville, Ind./Madison-Grant), Ted Williams – SS (Fr., Harper Woods, Mich./Grosse Pointe North), Ross Yoho – 3B (So., Plainfield, Ind./H.S.), Logan Kunkel – OF (Fr., Oxford, Ohio/Talawanda)
Franklin: Ian Sanders – 2B (Sr., Decatur, Ind./Bellmont), Alex Boone – 3B (Sr., Carmel, Ind./H.S.), Cody Nees – P (Sr., Cloverdale, Ind./H.S.), Nick Stoia – SS (So., Camby, Ind./Decatur Central), Matt Zmich – OF (Sr., Westfield, Ind./H.S.)
Hanover: Cam Ginder – OF (So., Ft. Wayne, Ind./Carroll), Ryan Grau – 1B (So., Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller)
Manchester: Trey Forbes – C (Sr., Kendallville, Ind./East Noble), Ty Foster – 1B (Sr., Danville, Ind./H.S.), John Smolinski – DH (Sr., South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s), David Tatham – OF (Sr., Nashville, Ind./Brown Co.)
Mount St. Joseph: Brandon Bouley – P (Sr., Hamilton, Ohio/H.S.), Trace Norton – OF (Sr., Reading, Ohio/H.S.), John Pasquale – IF (Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain), Drew Ernst – P/1B (Jr., Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder), Josh Denny – SS (Jr., Huntsville, Ala./Flushing)
Rose-Hulman: Chris Stemple – LF (Sr., Mt. Vernon, Ind./H.S.), Andrew Oakley – P (Sr., Clinton Township, Mich./Chippewa Valley), Michael Kovacs – CF (Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller), Nick Rumpke – P (Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio/Wyoming), Gannon Sadzeck – P (Sr., Crystal Lake, Ill./South)
Transylvania: Thomas Tolliver – OF (Sr., Wurtland, Ky./Raceland), Evan Rhea – 3B (Sr., Louisville, Ky./Trinity), Drew Zuckerman – C (Sr., Lexington, Ky./Henry Clay)