The North Coast Athletic Conference baseball coaches have once again selected Wooster as the favorites for the 2018 season based on preseason balloting by the league coaches.
The Fighting Scots, who have won back-to-back conference titles, earned eight first-place votes cast by league coaches to top the poll with 98 points. Denison, which also earned a first-place vote, finished second in the poll with 87 points, followed by Oberlin (71), DePauw (66), Ohio Wesleyan (54), Wabash (52), Allegheny (45), Wittenberg (32), Kenyon (29) and Hiram (16). Allegheny collected the final first place vote.
Wooster, which opens the 2018 season ranked 14th in the D3baseball.com Preseason Poll, enters the season with five returning players that earned All-NCAC accolades last spring, highlighted by junior shortstop Michael Wielansky (St. Louis, MO/Ladue Horton Watkins) and senior right-handed pitcher Nanak Saran (Hudson, OH/Hudson). Wielansky, an ABCA first-team All-American selection last year, established himself as one of the premier Div. III players in the country last spring, leading the nation with 69 runs scored and ranking in the top-10 nationally in both total bases (136) and hits (79). In 46 games last spring, Wielansky hit .425 (79-of-186), with 15 doubles, six triples, 10 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 54 RBI. Saran will be expected to be the ace of the pitching staff this year after posting a perfect 8-0 record in 2017 with a 2.92 earned-run-average after allowing just 24 earned runs in 74.0 innings of work. The Scots also return three second team All-NCAC players from 2017, including senior outfielder Jake Fling (Norton, OH/Norton), junior designated hitter Garrett Crum (Alliance, OH/Canton South) and junior utility player Chandler Dippman (Waterville, OH/St. John’s Jesuit). Fling earned the MVP award of the 2017 NCAC Tournament after hitting .563 in three-straight Wooster victories, highlighted by going 6-for-6 at the plate with two homers and seven RBI in the championship game victory over DePauw. Crum was one of the top power hitters in the NCAC last year with seven homers, six doubles and 56 RBI, while Dippman was a true two-way player for the Scots, hitting 303 in 122 at-bats and compiling a 2.57 ERA in 28.0 innings of work on the mound. The Fighting Scots will once again be led by head coach Tim Pettorini for the 37th year in a row. Pettorini, who has won three-straight NCAC Coach of the Year awards, is the active leader in NCAA Div. III in wins with an overall record of 1,173-436-6, making him one of just 10 Div. III coaches to reach the 1,000-win plateau. Pettorini-coached squads have won 17 NCAC titles and appeared in the NCAA Tournament 24 different times, highlighted by a pair of national runner-up finishes in 1997 and 2009.
Wooster leads all NCAC teams with 17 championships in 33 years, which includes winning 10 of the last 16 league titles. Ohio Wesleyan (10), Allegheny (4), DePauw (1), Oberlin (1) and Wabash (1) are the other teams to capture a title in conference history. Allegheny and Wooster shared the inaugural crown in the 1985 season.
Founded in 1983, the North Coast Athletic Conference is made up of ten academically selective colleges and universities - Allegheny College, DePauw University, Denison University, Hiram College, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, Ohio Wesleyan University, Wabash College, Wittenberg University and the College of Wooster, along with affiliate member, Earlham College (field hockey). The NCAC sponsors 23 championship sports, 11 for men and 12 for women.
2018 North Coast Athletic Conference