March 6, 2013

Castleton Picked to Win NAC Baseball Title

Castleton has been picked to successfully defend its 2012 conference championship in a preseason poll of the North Atlantic Conference baseball coaches. Castleton finished with 44 points and three first-place votes, just two points ahead of Husson University which also garnered three first-place votes. Colby-Sawyer finished third with 38 points and the remaining first-place vote.

Castleton and Husson have set the standard in the league since 2008, alternating the last five league titles. The duo even went head-to-head in the league championship from 2008-2011 before Colby-Sawyer crashed the party last season, eventually falling to the Spartans in a seventh and deciding game of the double-elimination tournament.

The Spartans return 20 players, including six starting field-position players and three starters. Castleton will look to replace the strong right arms of Tyler Erickson and Dakota Aker who propelled the team to the title last year, but boast three all-conference returners from last season, including Player of the Year, Ryan Zielinski. The senior second-baseman is coming off a junior season in which he led the conference in batting (.406), on base percentage (.484), slugging percentage (.586), hits (52) triples (4), doubles (12) and runs scored (36), while ranking second in RBI (31) and stolen bases (15). Joe Borowski and Mat Pause return to help lead the position players, while Patrick Riley and Adam Greenlese figure to anchor the pitching staff.

Husson will look to a deep group of position players and a young pitching staff to lead the way. Shawn Smith, a 2011 All-Conference First Team honoree, will lead the offensive attack after coming off a season in which he ranked sixth in the conference in triples. The league's 2011 Rookie of the Year, Cody McInnis, and Brandon Gendreau give the Eagles strength up the middle at shortstop and second base respectively.

Colby-Sawyer expects to be back in the mix once again this season, returning seven starters, including 2012 All-Conference honorees Kevin Keith and Tyler Stotz.

Thomas College and New England College rounded out the top-five with 27 and 23 points respectively.

The conference season gets underway on March 29, with the conference champion set to be crowned on May 5 at the culmination of the league's four-team, double-elimination tournament hosted by the regular season champion.

After spending the past three seasons as associate members playing in the North Eastern Athletic Conference's East Division (NEAC East), NAC members Castleton, Colby-Sawyer, Maine-Farmington, Husson, Lyndon, New England College and Thomas will now play as members of the NAC. The previous arrangement allowed the NAC members to compete for the NEAC's Pool A automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division III National Tournament. For the 2013 season the teams will compete for a Pool B at-large berth to the national tournament, and will transition to their own Pool A automatic qualifier for the 2014 season.

2013 NAC Baseball Coaches Poll

1.

Castleton

44 (3)

2.

Husson

42 (3)

3.

Colby-Sawyer

38 (1)

4.

Thomas

27

5.

New England Col.

23

6.

Me.-Farmington

13

7.

Lyndon

9

 

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