Last spring, Hillsdale College's baseball team celebrated with a pile of bodies and filled water bottles on the Prasco Park field, winning the 2018 G-MAC Tournament championship.
Conference coaches do not foresee a repeat performance in 2019.
The Chargers were picked to finish third in this year's conference preseason coach's poll. Hillsdale did receive one first-place vote and finished with 120 poll points. Ohio Dominican University, the G-MAC's other NCAA tournament representative from last year, was picked first with seven first-place votes and 136 poll points. Kentucky Wesleyan, whom Hillsdale beat in the conference tournament championship game, was picked second with four first-place votes and 130 poll points.
Malone also received a first-place vote and was picked fourth, while Trevecca Nazarene rounds out the top five in the poll.
Looking ahead to the new season, Hillsdale figures to have a lethal top of the batting order, led by fourth-year starters Colin Boerst and Steven Ring. Boerst battled injuries off and on last year, but has elite Division II size, speed and power. Ring is already the program's all-time leader in both home runs (35) and runs batted in (133) in just three seasons. He crushed three home runs and drove in nine in Hillsdale's title-clinching 15-2 win over Kentucky Wesleyan last year.
Ring and Boerst are part of a senior class that have made two trips to the NCAA Tournament in their careers, making this year's senior class the most successful in school history. Outfielder Dylan Lottinville is another key member of that senior class, and supplies another power bat to the lineup.
Junior shortstop Jake Hoover had a breakthrough season in 2018 and returns for his third year as a starter. Hoover is a gifted infielder and rarely has a bad swing at the ball. Head coach Eric Theisen has penciled Hoover into the leadoff spot in the batting order.
Junior Andrew Verbrugge had a strong season in 2018, winning five games with a 2.83 earned run average. He moves into the role of pitching staff ace. He leads one of the deepest pitching staffs in Theisen's six-year tenure as head coach, a staff that will see vital roles filled from members of all four classes.
Junior Kolton Rominski returns as a starter and sophomore David Toth could serve as both a starter and a closer, depending on the situation. Sophomor elefty Sawyer Allen has shown great improvement in the offeseason and gives the team a reliable southpaw arm on the mound.
Hillsdale has another challenging non-conference schedule this year, with early season games against foes like Wayne State, Bellarmine and Maryville. The G-MAC schedule gets underway at home March 16-17 against the University of Findlay. One change to the G-MAC schedule this year is teams will play four-game series on weekends, with two games on both Saturdays and Sundays.
Prasco Park will act as the host of the 2019 G-MAC Tournament, with play getting underway May 8.
|1.||Ohio Dominican (7)||136|
|2.||Kentucky Wesleyan (4)||130|
|13.||Davis & Elkins||19|