MINNESOTA STATE MAVERICKS (42-9)
Had the DII National Championship not been a winner-take-all single game, Minnesota State may have captured the title last season. No team was hotter than the Mavs at the end of last season who were 25-1 headed into the final deciding game against Tampa. However the Spartans extinguished the red hot Mavericks and jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead against MSU’s ABCA and Daktronics Pitcher of the Year, Harvey Martin to take home the title.
Minnesota State’s Connor McCallum
USC AIKEN PACERS (42-13)
The Pacers spent much of 2013 near the top of the DII rankings and completed the regular season as the Peach Belt Conference regular season champions. However like an attempt to take over the tri-state area by Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, Aiken’s postseason plan gloriously fell apart, going 0-2 in the PBC Tournament and 1-2 in the Southeast Regional for a much earlier than anticipated exit. Nevertheless, despite last season’s late shortcomings, expectations are high once again on campus for another successful season. Coach Kenny Thomas returns a stocked roster and a trip to Cary and the DII Baseball Championships will be the ultimate, and very obtainable, goal.
USC Aiken’s Ty Barkell
TAMPA SPARTANS (47-12)
When a school has five players selected in the MLB draft and another signed as a free agent, it’s usually an indicator that the team could be in for a rebuilding year – even if the club just won the national title. However that isn’t the case in Tampa. The Spartans only further cemented itself as one of DII baseball’s perennial powers and with another influx of talented transfers and recruits, UT will once again be a favorite to leave Cary with the championship trophy in hand. Continue reading
TEXAS A&M KINGSVILLE JAVELINAS (42-17)
The Javelinas set and eclipsed a number of goals last spring. They boasted multiple wins over top ten teams, spent the bulk of the season in the top 30, won a fifth LSC title and topped the school record with 42 wins. For this year’s team, the final goal will be Cary or bust. Few new accomplishments are left to be felled for TAMKU and Head Coach Jason Gonzales returns a rock solid roster with six established starters and all but a pair of pitchers who played in last year’s regional championship game.
Texas A&M Kingsville’s Dallas Ponder
MOUNT OLIVE TROJANS (48-8)
Last season UMO topped the nation in winning percentage and was the top seed and host of the Southeast Regional for the third year in a row. With a quick 2-0 start in regional play it appeared the Trojans could be headed to the final eight with an opportunity to play for their second national title in five years; however the team was upset in a pair of close games to have their season come to a disappointing end. While the school’s name has changed from Mount Olive College to the University of Mount Olive, one thing remains the same; the Trojans will once again field one of the top teams in the nation. Mount Olive lost several exceptional players over the offseason, but once again the Trojans added several more to take their place. Continue reading
SETON HILL GRIFFINS (42-17)
No team that fell short in their quest to make it to Cary last season came closer than the Seton Hill Griffins. After running away with the WVIAC regular season title, the Griffs were undefeated in the Atlantic Regional and had to only win one of two games against Shippensburg, a team which many were surprised even made the tournament, to advance to the DII CWS for the first time in school history. In game one SHU jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but were usurped after giving up ten straight runs – most of which were unearned. In the winner-take-all finale the Griffs again jumped out to a lead but were again felled by unearned runs for a disappointing end to their season.
Seton Hill’s Alex Haines
GRAND VALLEY STATE LAKERS (39-18)
The Lakers had another impressive season last year that once again had them in the company of the top teams at season’s end in Cary. While GVSU didn’t have some of the gaudy winning streaks or players with video game numbers in the past, they did have something just as important, which was a solid team of savvy, talented players who could lean on each other for a win. Head Coach Jamie Detillion didn’t miss a beat in his first year taking over for the Lakers and his sophomore season could be just as impressive. The roster returns a commanding presence on offense and if some arms develop the Lakers will be considered a threat to compete for the title once again. Continue reading
WILMINGTON WILDCATS (43-13)
After running away with the CACC regular season and conference titles, Wilmington was in good position to advance to the DII Championships. WU dropped their first game in the East Regional, but responded by winning three straight to set up an opportunity to advance to Cary. The Wildcats were ultimately stymied in a rematch with Franklin Pierce, the team that dealt them the opening round loss as well. The ‘Cats returned to campus a game away from making it to the final eight. Head Coach Brian August and the rest of the team are the short list of contenders to appear from the East. The staff has multiple valuable arms and the lineup boasts one of the most productive hitters in the nation. Continue reading
SAINT EDWARD’S HILLTOPPERS (44-18)
St. Edward’s had a banner season last spring, winning a school record 44 games and made a 2-2 appearance in Cary. In order to make the DII finals the Hilltoppers dramatically won a pair of elimination games on the last day of the South Regional to advance to the College World Series for the first time in team history. Had a late inning rally against Minnesota State in the semifinals not fell short SEU could have very easily been the last team standing once the final out was made in North Carolina. The core of last year’s team remains much of the same and a return trip east will unquestionably be the goal for Head Coach Rob Penders and the rest of the team. Continue reading
SAINT CLOUD STATE HUSKIES (37-11)
Few teams were as impressive as SCSU last season. After an opening day loss the Huskies went 21-1 and spent most of the season in the top ten of the rankings. The Huskies started the Central Region with a pair of wins; however SCSU couldn’t get past their nemeses, conference rival Minnesota State, who gave the Huskies both of their losses in the double-elimination tournament. The Huskies will once again challenge MSU for conference and national status, backed by one of the top returning pitching staffs in that nation. The lineup has more than a few holes left by upperclassmen, but if the arms hold steady SCSU won’t need much offense.
St. Cloud State’s Garrett Fischer