TUCSON, Ariz.--Adrian College will begin the 2019 baseball season just where the Bulldogs ended 2018: ranked in the American Baseball Coaches Association-endorsed Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll. Adrian received 215 points to come in 26th in CBN's Top-40 preseason coaches' poll for NCAA Division III schools that appears in the Jan. 4 college preview edition of the publication.
Wooster (Ohio) is the preseason No. 1 with 285 points and Wisconsin-Whitewater is second with 281. Texas-Tyler, the 2018 defending NCAA national champion, is not ranked because the school is transitioning into Division II.
Adrian is the only school representing the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association in these national rankings. In the 2018 preseason poll, the Bulldogs were 39th with 188 points.
The Bulldogs return four all-conference standouts among seven starters in the lineup. Junior infielder Brady Wood (Frankenmuth, Mich.) leads the offense with a .399/.458/.554 slashline with 14 doubles and 34 runs batted in, earning first-team All-MIAA accolades at second base. Wood tied a single-game school record with five hits in the MIAA finale at Hope. Classmate Gunner Rainey (Adrian, Mich./Madison High School) also made the all-conference first team after career highs in batting average (.344), on-base percentage (.401), slugging (.411), runs scored (39), hits (62) and RBI (32). He became the 38th Bulldog in school history to reach 100 career hits (May 5, 2018, at Hope).
The mound is occupied by a pair of formidable right-handers in sophomore Jordan Williams (Westland, Mich./Lutheran Westland HS) and junior Pierce Banks (Sterling Heights, Mich./Parkway Christian HS) who were named first and second-team all-conference, respectively, last spring. Williams leads the Adrian pitching staff with an 8-1 record with three saves and 2.07 earned-run average in 74 innings (66 strikeouts) as he also landed a spot on the ABCA/Rawlings and D3baseball.com All-Mideast Region second teams as a freshman. Banks had a solid sophomore effort that included a 7-2 mark, 4.21 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 72.2 innings. (Banks was second-team all-region by ABCA as a 2017 freshman.)
Adrian returns the bulk of a team that finished 35-12 overall (11th 30-win season in a row) and 24-4 in the MIAA, extending its conference record of 10 consecutive conference championships. The Bulldogs went 2-2 in their 12th NCAA tournament appearance as the school hosted the Mideast Regional that featured seven of eight teams that earned points in the 2018 ABCA/CBN final national rankings, where AC ended up 29th with 70 points.
Adrian commences the 2019 season--its 26th under head coach Craig Rainey '89--on Saturday, March 2, at nationally-regarded Birmingham-Southern College.
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