Anderson Chosen as Preseason HCAC Baseball Favorite

Anderson Chosen as Preseason HCAC Baseball Favorite

GREENWOOD, IN – The Anderson University baseball team has been selected as the favorite to claim the 2014 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball championship.  The Ravens received 88 total points and four first place votes in the annual HCAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, edging out defending champion Manchester by a single point.

The poll collects votes from all ten head coaches in the HCAC.  Manchester University received the second most votes in the poll and finished with 87 total points and three first place votes.  Franklin College finished third in the poll with 81 points and three first place votes and was followed by Transylvania University which claimed 68 points.  Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (61 points), Defiance College (51), Earlham College (38), Bluffton University (35), Hanover College (31), and College of Mount St. Joseph (10) rounded out the poll.

Anderson will be looking for its third HCAC baseball title as the Ravens enter the 2014 season.  AU will be striving for the school’s sixth straight HCAC Tournament appearance this spring.  Anderson finished second during the 2013 season with a 15-10 conference mark, finishing seven games behind conference champion Manchester.

The Ravens return two All-HCAC first-team members from last season’s team.  Junior outfielder Jake Craft (LaPorte, Ind./H.S.) led the squad at the plate as a sophomore, batting .339 (61-for-180) with 42 runs, 27 RBI, 13 doubles, and seven home runs.  Junior outfielder Jeremy Shelmadine (Ft. Wayne, Ind./Carroll) also earned first-team honors, hitting .331 with 32 runs scored, 22 RBI, and eight doubles as a sophomore.

On the mound, Anderson will be led by All-HCAC second-team selection Jake Eaton (LaPorte, Ind./H.S.).  The junior pitcher was 6-1 on the hill last year with a 3.64 earned run average and 48 strikeouts in 59.1 innings of work.   

Manchester will be looking for the school’s sixth HCAC baseball title this spring.  The Spartans ran away with the conference crown in 2013, earning a 22-3 league record.  Manchester won the HCAC tournament crown and NCAA Division III Mideast Regional before dropping a pair of contests at the NCAA Division III World Series in Appleton, Wisconsin.  MU finished the season 39-7-1 overall. 

The Spartans enter the 2014 season ranked No. 7 in the Preseason Top 25 Poll.  Manchester returns three All-HCAC first-team selections to the lineup this spring, including Preseason All-American Jordan Nieman (Michigan City, Ind./H.S.). Nieman, a senior third baseman, hit .335 with a HCAC-best 71 RBI and 11 home runs last spring.  Junior second baseman Trevor Kimm (Anderson, Ind./H.S.) and senior pitcher Dylan Padgett (Kirkland, Ind./Clinton Central) also return after All-HCAC selections a year ago.  Kimm  hit .372 at the plate with 11 doubles, seven home runs, and 53 RBI, while Padgett posted an 8-1 record on the mound with 57 strikeouts and a 3.29 ERA.

Franklin is predicted to finish third and make a strong push for a fourth HCAC title.  The Grizzlies finished third in the standings a year ago with a 14-11 league record, finishing the season 24-20 overall.  Franklin returns one All-HCAC first-team member from last season’s team.  Senior pitcher Chris Hoopingarner (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central) led the FC rotation with a 7-5 record, posting a 2.66 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 88 innings of work.

The 2014 baseball season opens on February 22.  The HCAC portion of the schedule will begin on March 21 with the HCAC Tournament slated for May 8-10.

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