21. COLORADO MESA MAVERICKS (39-16)
Final 2012 Ranking: 23
After a slow start which dropped them from the rankings the team formally known as Mesa State went on a rampage and won 26 of 29 games to capture their first RMAC crown under the Colorado Mesa moniker. The Mavs stumbled at the end however, dropping their final four games and were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament on a walk-off two-run homerun in the bottom of the ninth by Minnesota State in the Central Region tournament. 2013 will be their first season in four years without perennial All Conference star Jeff Popick who signed with the homestate Rockies after the season. Despite his loss the Mavs will once again field a formidable lineup that will keep the team in the running for another Regional title and trip to the CWS .
The Mavs should be dominant on the mound with a pair of returning starters and another pair of impressive incoming transfers. Nolan Snell won nine games for CMU and led the conference with 105 Ks in just 82.2 innings. He’ll be rejoined in the rotation by Gerrett Carpenter who went 6-4 in 14 starts and earned All RMAC 2nd Team honors. Expected to join the rotation are Aaron Corwin from Texas Tech and Joey Danner from Glendale CC. Corwin saw action in 11 games for Tech last year and posted a 4.26 ERA and is projected to be CMU’s number one starter. Danner threw 82.1 innings for the Gauchos and had a 3.71 ERA.
The leading hitter returning to Grand Junction is SS Bradon Box. Box raised his batting average ninety points last season to finish at .395 and earned All American recognition by Daktronics thanks in large part to his defense and 30 stolen bases in 34 attempts. Coach Chris Hanks will also be able to pencil in 3B Colton Little and his .344 batting average back into the lineup as well as DH/OF Mitch Corwin who was third on team in batting at a .374. Sophomore 1B Kevin Mitchell saw limited action last year, compiling only 13 at bats, but Coach Hanks welcomed a stronger and faster Mitchell back to campus this fall and projects him to be another solid bat in the lineup.