WEST FLORIDA ARGONAUTS (39-14)
If it wasn’t for DII baseball’s unrelenting regionals positioning which forces conferences to a region, UWF likely have spent the end of last season in Cary. However the Argos, despite being one of a handful of top ranked teams capable of winning the national title, were thrown into the stacked and ravenous South Regional where they forced a winner-take-all deciding game against home team Tampa. West Florida eventually fell to the eventual national champions and will have its work cut out for them if they are to challenge the Spartans once again. Many important arms and bats will be back in Pensacola and the roster will be restocked with new talent, but the question if the reload will keep the team in the national championship discussion remains to be seen.
West Florida’s Austin Southall
DRURY PANTHERS (39-17)
Had the Panthers been able to come up with just a few more timely hits or had a couple of balls bounced a little more differently, Head Coach Scott Nasby would have finished his first campaign at the helm of the club in Cary. Unfortunately for the team however they narrowly dropped both of their regional games to have the season come to an end. Nonetheless, things are looking good in Springfield. The young Panther program, which has only been on the diamond for seven years, is looking strong. DU has the look of a club that could rival perennial powerhouse Central Missouri for state supremacy. The Panthers established a school record number of wins last year, and with plenty of accomplished players back on the diamond, that number could be eclipsed this season.
LANDER BEARCATS (35-16)
The Bearcats had one of the strongest starts to the season last year, punctuated by sweeping the reigning national champion West Chester Golden Rams the second week of the year. However a late season swoon doomed the Bearcats who also went 1-2 in the Peach Belt Tournament and had their season end without an invite to the NCAAs despite being highly ranked the majority of the season. Head Coach Kermit Smith will field another competitive team this season; however unlike last year the Bearcats final out won’t likely occur outside of the regionals and could possibly take place in Cary, North Carolina. Continue reading
MILLERSVILLE MARAUDERS (40-18)
The Marauders had another successful season in 2013 which included the club reaching the 40 win plateau and was the top seed in the Atlantic Regional for the second time in three seasons. Nevertheless, MU was stopped short of reaching Cary after the team was eliminated a game short of the regional title matchup in a bizarre contest in which Millersville pitchers hit a combined 12 batters. This season, while Head Coach Jonathan Shehan won’t have top prospect Tim Mayza back in the rotation, he will have an experienced bullpen which could make the difference between being one of the final eight teams or being sent home early for the summer. Continue reading
SAINT MARY’S RATTLERS (39-17)
The Rattlers were College Baseball Lineup’s preseason pick to take the title last season but ultimately fell short of reaching Cary and the DII Championships after going 2-2 in the South Central Regional. Head Coach Charlie Migl, who passed the 1,000th career win mark last season, has another talented team which could compete once again for a national title and fifth straight conference crown if new additions are able to fill in holes left by graduating upperclassmen.
St. Mary’s Rene Solis
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. Continue reading
SAINT LEO LIONS (35-14-1)
The Lions needed an impressive close to their 2013 regular season if they were going to receive an at large bid to the NCAAs. The green and gold did their part, impressively tallying double-digit runs in their last five games and outscoring Florida Southern 33-6 in their regular season finale; however it wasn’t deemed quite good enough and the Lions were left at home for the extended postseason. This season the Lions are planning on taking fate into their own hands and leaving little doubt they deserve to advance to the South Regional. A solid core of everyday starters and impressive pitchers should keep St. Leo from being on the outside looking in when the NCAA pairings are announced.
St. Leo’s Cole Stancil
LEWIS FLYERS (33-18)
It wasn’t long ago the Lewis Flyers were just plain horrible; like the series finale of “Dexter” awful. If you didn’t see it take my word for it. That’s pretty bad. In 2007 the Flyers were an abysmal 8-47 and in the preceding years reaching double-digit wins was an accomplishment. The program has come along way in a few years. Since taking over as the head coach in 2008, Tim McDonough has led the team to unprecedented school success and transformed the perennial doormat into a rising national contender. Last season the Flyers won the GLVC East Division title and earned an invite to the Midwest Regional. LU went 2-2 and fared well in the tournament, but just as they were in the GLVC tournament, the Flyers were upset by a determined Bellarmine club to come short of adding extra hardware to the trophy case. A solid lineup with quality arms returns in 2014 and the team could be a breakout player or two away from advancing to Cary.
Lewis’ Tom Helwich
ALABAMA HUNTSVILLE CHARGERS (33-15-1)
Despite having an accomplished season and finishing the year second in the conference standings, the Chargers finished the season losing four of their last five games, including two-and-out in the Gulf South Conference Tournament. The subsequent slip in the South Region rankings required rooting for Delta State to win the GSC’s automatic bid to keep the Chargers’ extended postseason hopes alive. It didn’t happen as Valdosta State upset DSU and took the conference’s automatic bid. This season the Chargers may not need a nail-biting watch-and-hope final day as they could wrap up a bid early and not have to sweat out the selections. Head Coach Hunter Royer will have GSC Player of the Year and three time All American Chandler Brock back in the lineup along with a number of other highly productive bats as well as half of last year’s starting rotation and a handful of other experienced arms.
Alabama Huntsville’s Chandler Brock
MONTEVALLO FALCONS (34-20)
Despite not getting a whole bunch of traction in the rankings last season the Falcons were easily one of the most dangerous teams on the diamond. UM won games over top teams such as St. Leo, UNC Pembroke, Alabama-Huntsville, Lander and USC Aiken. Despite the impressive list of wins, as well as reaching the PBC Championship game, the Falcons were denied an opportunity to play in the extended NCAA postseason. It’s not going to be any easier this season as the Falcons still play in one of the toughest conferences and will once again have to fight for a spot in a crowded Southeast Region; however Head Coach Chandler Rose can use the snub to help fuel an all ready talented team to go even further this season. Continue reading