GREENWOOD, Ind. – The Earlham College Quakers baseball team has been selected as the favorite to claim the 2018 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball championship. The Quakers received 93 total points and six first place votes in the annual HCAC Preseason Coaches' Poll.
The poll collects votes from all ten head coaches in the HCAC. Manchester University received the second most votes in the poll and finished with 81 total points. Franklin College finished third in the poll with 79 points and three first place votes and was followed by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology which claimed 68 points. Mount St. Joseph University (67), Transylvania University (36), Anderson University (34, one first place vote), Bluffton University (32), Defiance College (31), and Hanover College (29) rounded out the poll.
Earlham will be looking for the school's second HCAC baseball title this spring. The Quakers finished first in the HCAC standings during the 2017 season with a 21-6 conference mark. Earlham ended their season in the third game of the NCAA Regional with a 5-0 loss to Cortland St.
The Quakers return the 2016 HCAC Freshman of the Year and one All-HCAC selection from last season's team. Junior pitcher Walter Talcott (Lafayette, Ind. / McCutcheon) posted an ERA of 2.60 and struck out 26 batters in 27.2 innings of work last season. The Quakers also return All-HCAC Honorable Mention pick Kyle Gorman (Cincinnati, Ohio / Oak Hills) from last year's squad. The sophomore pitcher started 11 games with 46 strikeouts and a 3.74 ERA in 74.2 innings.
Manchester University will be looking for the school's fifth HCAC baseball title this spring. The Spartans finished second in the conference standings in 2017, earning an 18-9 league record. Manchester ended their season with a loss to Mount St. Joseph in the conference tournament and finished 22-21 overall.
The Spartans return one All-HCAC first-team selection and HCAC Freshman of the Year to the lineup. Sophomore designated hitter Joe Gallatin (Muncie, Ind. / Muncie Central) finished the season with 46 RBI, 26 runs, and a .358 batting average. Manchester also returns four All-HCAC second-team picks from last year's team.
Franklin College is predicted to finish third and finished fifth in the standings a year ago with a 13-12 league record, finishing the season 21-17 overall. The Grizzlies return two All-HCAC first-team members from last season's team. Junior short stop Sam Claycamp (Columbus, Ind. / Columbus East) hit .347 wtih 45 runs scored, 34 RBI, and 17 doubles last spring, and junior pitcher Jordan Clark (Connersville, Ind. / Connersville) tallied 80 strikeouts in 70.1 innings with a 2.82 earned run average.
2018 Baseball Players to Watch
|Anderson||John Becker||Sr.||P||Ubana, Ill.|
|Jacob Morgan||C||Harrison, Ohio|
|Nick Butcher||Sr.||SS||New Palestine, Ind.|
|Seth Eldridge||Sr.||P||Cutler, Ind.|
|Bluffton||Brantley Curnutte||Jr.||RHP||Hilliard, Ohio|
|Chase Lawniczak||So.||SS||Toledo, Ohio|
|Colin Gregory||Jr.||OF||Clyde, Ohio|
|Ryan Golden||Sr.||DH||Findlay, Ohio|
|Dante D'Andrea||Jr.||RHP||Westerville, Ohio|
|Defiance||Paris Creek||Jr.||P||Bryan, Ohio|
|Michael Gilliland||Jr.||SS||Napoleon, Ohio|
|Glen Collier||Sr.||IF||Zionsville, Ind.|
|Earlham||Walter Talcott||Jr.||RHP||Lafayette, Ind.|
|Kyle Gorman||So.||RHP||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Danny Dopp||So.||INF/C||South Haven, Mich.|
|Kendal Baker||Sr.||OF||Richmond, Ind.|
|Isaiah Shake||So.||OF||Bloomington, Ind.|
|Franklin||Sam Claycamp||Jr.||SS||Columbus, Ind.|
|Nick Wright||So.||1B||Bloomington, Ind.|
|Jordan Clark||Jr.||RHP||Connersville, Ind.|
|Jackson Freed||Sr.||C||Westfield, Ind.|
|Mitch Caster||Sr.||RHP||Greenwood, Ind.|
|Hanover||Jack Shine||Sr.||SS||New Albany, Ind.|
|Tyler Fitch||Jr.||C||Crestwood, Ky.|
|David Herrmann||Jr.||P||Fishers, Ind.|
|Ty Stover||Jr.||1B||Galveston, Ind.|
|Manchester||Tyler LaFollette||Jr.||OF||Warsaw, Ind.|
|Eric Knepper||Sr.||OF||Breman, Ind.|
|Brandon Eck||Sr.||P||Fort Wayne, Ind.|
|Taylor Kopplin||Sr.||P||Westport, Ind.|
|Steve Pinarski||Sr.||P||Goshen, Ind.|
|Mount St. Joseph||Alex Wagner||Jr.||RHP||West Chester, Ohio|
|Nate Hunter||Sr.||OF||Vevay, Ind.|
|Wyatt Myers||Jr.||LHP||Waynesville, Ohio|
|Simon Schaefer||Jr.||INF||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Roman Rothwell||So.||INF||Monroe, Ohio|
|Rose-Hulman||David Burnside||Jr.||OF||Northbrook, Ill.|
|Conner Shipley||Jr.||SS||Terre Haute, Ind.|
|Ian Grant||Sr.||LHP||Liberyville, Ill.|
|Ryan Stachowski||So.||1B||Saint Joseph, Mich.|
|Brian Thomas||Jr.||DH||St. Louis, Mo.|
|Transylvania||Cole Ratliff||So.||C||Hazard, Ky.|
|Jared Williams||Sr.||SS||Burlington, Ky.|
|Taylor Henley||Sr.||1B||Lexington, Ky.|
|Austin Butts||So.||P/OF||Woodstock, Ill.|
|Isaac Taylor||Jr.||OF||Lexington, Ky.|