INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Franklin College Grizzlies baseball team has been selected as the favorite to claim the 2019 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball championship. The Grizzlies received 96 total points and seven first place votes in the annual HCAC Preseason Coaches' Poll.
The poll collects votes from all ten head coaches in the HCAC. Anderson University received the second most votes in the poll and finished with 83 total points and two first place votes. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology finished third in the poll with 82 points and the final first place vote and was followed by Earlham College which claimed 62 points. Manchester University (53), Transylvania University (52), Bluffton University (43), Mount St. Joseph University (32), Hanover College (25), and Defiance College (22) rounded out the poll.
Franklin will be looking for the school's second consecutive HCAC baseball title this spring. The Grizzlies finished first in the HCAC standings during the 2018 season with a 17-1 conference mark. Franklin ended their season in the third game of the NCAA Regional with a 10-1 loss to Texas-Tyler.
The Grizzlies return the 2018 HCAC Most Valuable Player and five other All-HCAC selections from last season's team. Junior outfielder Ryan Bixler hit .400 (28-for-70) in conference play and had 29 runs, 31 RBI, five doubles, one triple, and seven home runs.
Franklin also returns catcher Alex Mis, first baseman Drew Naumovich, shortstop Sam Claycamp, outfielder Jarrod Smith and designated hitter Nick Wright to the lineup this season. The Grizzlies posted a conference leading .351 batting average last season while tallying 67 home runs.
Anderson University will be looking for the school's third HCAC baseball title since 2010 this spring. The Ravens finished second in the conference standings in 2018, earning an 11-7 league record. Anderson ended their season with a loss to Franklin in the conference tournament championship and finished 25-20 overall.
The Ravens return one All-HCAC first-team selection to the lineup from last year's squad. Junior second baseman Nick Jones finished the season with 19 RBI, 29 runs, and a .367 batting average.
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is predicted to finish third and finished at the same spot in the standings a year ago with a 10-7 league record, finishing the season 20-23 overall. The Fightin' Engineers return one All-HCAC first-team members from last season's team. Junior pitcher Luke Buehler tallied 62 strikeouts in 70.2 innings of work with a 1.53 earned run average.
2019 Baseball Players to Watch
|Anderson||Branton Sanders||Sr.||1B||Whiteland, Ind.|
|Joe Moran||Jr.||P/OF||Anderson, Ind.|
|Nick Jones||Jr.||SS/P||New Castle, Ind.|
|Andrew Rolfsen||Jr.||P||Fort Wayne, Ind.|
|Clayton White||So.||P||Greenfield, Ind.|
|Bluffton||Garrett O'Reilly||So.||Util.||Galena, Ohio|
|Jacob Latkofsky||So.||INF||Temperance, Mich.|
|Colin Gregory||Sr.||OF||Fremont, Ohio|
|Dante D'Andrea||Sr.||RHP||Westerville, Ohio|
|Defiance||Paris Creek||Sr.||P||Bryan, Ohio|
|Michael Gilliland||Sr.||SS||Napoleon, Ohio|
|Ben Bucklew||Jr.||C||Archbold, Ohio|
|Jon Brown||Jr.||P||Haskins, Ohio|
|Troy Konwinski||Sr.||P/DH||Allen Park, Mich.|
|Earlham||Walter Talcott||Sr.||RHP||Lafayette, Ind.|
|Danny Dopp||Jr.||INF||South Haven, Mich.|
|Addison Robertson||Sr.||Util.||Indianapolis, Ind.|
|Colin Greve||Jr.||RHP||South Bend, Ind.|
|Marc Gendreau||So.||INF||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Franklin||Sam Claycamp||Sr.||SS||Columbus, Ind.|
|Nick Wright||Jr.||DH/1B/OF||Bloomington, Ind.|
|Ryan Bixler||Jr.||OF||Logansport, Ind.|
|Jarrod Smith||Jr.||OF||Frankfort, Ind.|
|Jordan Clark||Sr.||RHP||Connersville, Ind.|
|Hanover||Garrett Zorb||Sr.||RHP||Medina, Ohio|
|Chase Sizemore||Sr.||INF||Fishers, Ind.|
|David Herrmann||Sr.||LHP||Fishers, Ind.|
|Josh Meszaros||Sr.||OF||Loveland, Ohio|
|Tyler Fitch||Sr.||C||Crestwood, Ky.|
|Manchester||Tyler LaFollette||Sr.||OF||Warsaw, Ind.|
|Braxton Riley||Sr.||SS||Fort Wayne, Ind.|
|Mount St. Joseph||Alex Wagner||Sr.||RHP||West Chester, Ohio|
|Simon Schaefer||Sr.||INF||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Wyatt Myers||Sr.||LHP||Waynesville, Ohio|
|Roman Rothwell||Jr.||INF||Monroe, Ohio|
|Garrett Hogan||Jr.||INF||Hamilton, Ohio|
|Rose-Hulman||David Burnside||Sr.||OF||Northbrook, Ill.|
|Conner Shipley||Sr.||2B||Terre Haute, Ind.|
|Luke Buehler||Jr.||LHP||Carmel, Ind.|
|Clayton Mayfield||Jr.||RHP||Brentwood, Tenn.|
|Sean Casey||Sr.||OF/C||McCordsville, Ind.|
|Transylvania||Hudson Chastain||So.||2B||Knoxville, Tenn.|
|Colton Hartig||So.||P||Alexandria, Ky.|
|Collin Johnson||Jr.||P||Union, Ky.|
|Austin Butts||Jr.||1B||Woodstock, Ill.|
|Isaac Taylor||Sr.||OF||Lexington, Ky.|