6. CENTRAL MISSOURI MULES (48-9)
Final 2012 Ranking: 7
UCM was two innings away from advancing to Cary for the fourth year in a row, but couldn’t survive a late St. Mary’s Rattler rally and were eliminated. The Mules did earn their 14th consecutive season with 40 or more wins and have won least 44 wins in all five years under Head Coach Tom Myers. Reaching those milestones once again shouldn’t be too daunting of a task for the perennial MIAA bully. Several critical cogs from last year’s team have moved on, including All American and St. Louis Cardinal draft pick Lee Stoppelman, but Myers’ Mules have a tradition of rebuilding and competing at regional and national level year after year and 2013 will be no different.
A trio of everyday starters from last season, each of who hit over .320, will be back in the lineup in 2013. 1B John Oropeza led the team with six home runs and batted .323, OF Albert Selanders was a tough out all season and finished at .332 with 15 stolen bases and 2B Jon Cotter hit .331. UCM coaches expect breakout seasons from SS Samuel Domingue and OF Kyle Grieshaber. Domingue is a Canadian import who is coming to Warrensburg after playing two seasons at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. Grieshaber played two seasons at Louisville before returning to his home state last season. Did I fail to mention that last year’s leading hitter Ben Cox is going to be back on the diamond again too? Dude hit .374 last year. This team is going to score early and often.
While the Mules won’t have last year’s ace Stoppelman returning to the mound, two solid starters will be back in action to provide some stability until a new core of arms is ready to take to the mound. Kurtis Schuyler went 9-2 last season with a 2.53 ERA and only allowed a dozen walks in 82.1 innings. Also back is Chris Fitzpatrick was a perfect 6-0 with a 3.11 ERA. A replacement will also be needed for closer Travis Unthank who had ten saves as well as one of my favorite Twitter names of all time as @TheUnderthanker.