FREELAND, Mich.--The Adrian College baseball team is predicted to win the 2017 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title, according to the preseason coaches' poll released on Wednesday by MIAA Commissioner Penny Allen-Cook.
The Bulldogs garnered all but one first-place vote from the MIAA's eight head coaches to outdistance defending tournament champion Kalamazoo, 7 points to 17. The other two 2016 conference tournament teams--Hope and Alma--came in third and fourth, respectively, in the preseason poll.
In 2016, Adrian tied Alma's league record of eight consecutive titles from 1951-58 by going 24-4 through the MIAA circuit and winning by six games. Overall, the Bulldogs went 30-12 for their ninth 30-win campaign in a row.
Adrian begins this spring nationally ranked No. 23 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and in its season preview issue, named three Bulldogs to the NCAA Division III Players to Watch List: seniors shortstop Ryan Dorow (South Haven High School), outfielder Ian Mikowski (Grand Rapids/Northview HS) and junior right-handed pitcher Tommy Parsons (New Albany [Ohio] High). Parsons also has been chosen to the D3baseball.com Preseason All-America Second Team.
Adrian--the only MIAA member ranked in CBN's preseason rankings--is set to return 26 student-athletes who saw varsity playing time last season, including six starters in the lineup and three pitchers in the main rotation.
With a bevy of lettermen returning, Adrian's potent offense is largely intact for 2017. A year ago, the Bulldogs were the national statistical champion with a .438 on-base percentage for one of numerous school records broken or tied.
As a team, Adrian also was nationally ranked fourth with 228 walks, fifth in scoring at 8.7 runs per contest, 14th with a .333 batting average, 14th with 366 runs scored, 16th in slugging percentage at .485, 24th with 2.26 doubles per game, 27th with five shutouts, 29th with 95 doubles, 31st with a .714 won-lost percentage, 32nd with a .965 fielding percentage, 39th with 24 sacrifice flies, 41st with 28 home runs and 44th with 0.67 homers per game.
In each of those categories, the Bulldogs also paced the MIAA. In addition to on-base percentage, the team set program records for walks (previous: 209 in 2014) and runs (previous: 359, 2012) in marks that were ranked among NCAA leaders.
Adrian will commence the season on Sunday, Feb. 26, at Berry College and remain in Georgia to play again two days later at Piedmont College to begin a two-game series with the Lions. The non-conference schedule will be formidable as the Bulldogs play CBN nationally-ranked teams in the first three weeks: No. 5 Birmingham Southern (Mar. 2), No. 19 Wooster (Mar. 18), No. 24 Marietta (Mar. 17) and No. 27 North Central College (Mar. 19).
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