It’s easy to highlight the pitching of Davis Ward because no words are necessary; the numbers say it all. The ace of Ouachita Baptist has been like the Riddler this season, baffling batsmen all season long. In his six appearances this season, Ward has toed the rubber against nationally ranked teams four times – each of them were wins for the Tigers and three of the games were shutouts. He is a perfect 5-0 and his 1.59 ERA is so dainty it should only be enjoyed with a fine glass of sherry. Despite facing some of the toughest lineups in DII baseball, he’s struck out 42 batters while only allowing 37 hits (for a .213 batting average) while issuing just six measly walks in 45.1 near masterful innings. Continue reading
If you’ve seen one of the “Faces of Meth” posters which demonstrate the effects of methamphetamine on its users, then you have a good idea of what baseball look like after Montevallo’s Jackson Slaid has taken batting practice. The Falcons’ senior catcher has been absolutely blistering baseball this season, crushing eight pitches for homeruns in the first month of the season. Continue reading
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