UNC PEMBROKE BRAVES (38-16)
When the announcement of teams for the NCAA Regionals was made last spring, UNCP was one of the deserving teams that was left on the outside looking in. Despite a national ranking with an impressive season resume which included wins over a collection of top ranked teams there wasn’t room for the Braves on the postseason roster. The same number of limited spots will be available this season; however unlike last year Head Coach Paul O’Neil and the Braves don’t intend on being sent home early for the summer. The team will be without one of the best arms in the country in Ethan Carter; however UNCP does return eight of nine players in its batting order which ranked second nationally in hits and in the top 10 in six other offensive categories as well as one of DII baseball top pitching prospects.
Third basemen Jordan Edgerton is one of the most dynamic players in DII baseball and registered a team-best .392 batting average and tied for tops in the nation with 94 hits. The junior was also accomplished with the glove, earning a Southeast Region Gold Glove from the ABCA. He’ll once again lead the offensive charge, backed by Ben Schmucker who hit .330 and was second on the team in extra-base hits and RBI. For his defensive prowess Schmucker was also awarded a gold glove after completing the season without an error in right field. Zade Denton is another name which could have a list of accolades behind it at the end of the season. Denton hit .339 last season, improving his average over forty points from his freshman campaign. Coaches believe he’ll continue to elevate his game and could be one of the best in the conference. Also expect to see big numbers from Dalton Knight. Knight batted .354 in 2012 and .351 last season. He was one of the most improved players during the off season and could be a vital cog to the team’s success.
The unquestioned ace of the pitching staff will be Dale Innes who finished last season in the top ten nationally in strikeouts with 106 K’s in just 89.1 innings pitched. Innes has had his name consistently mentioned in conversations of top DII MLB prospects and will be looking to justify the talk this spring. Another pair of extremely capable arms comes in Patrick McMahon and Logan Cook. McMahon was second on the team with a 2.25 ERA, paced the club with five saves and had a perfect 5-0 record out of the bullpen. Cook earned six wins as a freshman and could make an impact as a starter after showing signs of promise in a dual role last spring. Garrett Hickman, a transfer from Surry Community College, to provide some value innings on the mound as well.