INDIANAPOLIS, In. -- Drury's baseball Panthers have been picked to finish second in the Great Lakes Valley Conference preseason poll of the league's coaches released on Tuesday.
Following NCAA Midwest Region and Great Lakes Valley Conference titles and a trip to the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship last year, Indianapolis has been unanimously picked to win the 2013 GLVC East Division crown, while Quincy has been tabbed as the best of the West Division, sharing the same number of first-place votes (5) as Drury, but picking up just two more points (103-101) overall.
The annual preseason poll ranks the top-eight teams in each of the conference's two divisions, which were voted on by the league coaches.
The Panthers are coming off a 29-22 finish in 2012, with the majority of squads back from that squad that made the GLVC post-season tournament field for the third straight year and fourth time in its six seasons. Drury will be under new direction this season, as former assistant Scott Nasby has been named the interim head coach while Mark Stratton, the only coach in the program's seven-year history, steps aside to focus on his health after suffering a stroke in December.
Drury opens its 2013 season February 16-17 against Christian Brothers University in Memphis.
Indianapolis' Greyhounds garnered all 15 first-place votes they were entitled to en route to 120 points, well ahead of runner-up Southern Indiana in second with one first-place tally and 95 points. Conference bylaws prohibit coaches from voting for their own school. Bellarmine (92) and Lewis (84) were picked third and fourth, respectively, while Saint Joseph's (68), Kentucky Wesleyan (47), UW-Parkside (31) and newcomer McKendree (28) round out the eight-team division.
In addition to being touted as the East Division favorite, the Greyhounds have already claimed a few national accolades prior to the 2013 campaign commencing. Coming off a 46-16 season, including a 26-8 mark in conference play, UIndy has been ranked No. 12 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper NCAA Division II Preseason Poll. Indianapolis will be paced by third baseman Tyler O'Daniel and catcher Nick Whitty, who have been recognized by the American Baseball Coaches Association and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper as preseason All-Americans.
Returning to the dugout for his 19th year is Gary Vaught, the 2012 GLVC Coach of the Year. The Hounds' skipper guided his squad to the East Division crown and GLVC title last year, while helping 10 standouts to either first- or second-team All-Conference accolades.
Indianapolis was the runaway pick in the East, putting 28 points between first and third-place Bellarmine, however just 26 points separate the top-five teams in the West, while four of those squads garnered at least three first-place votes.
In the West, Missouri-St. Louis (91), Rockhurst (87), and Missouri S&T round out the top five behind Quincy and Drury. UMSL and Rockhurst each netted three first-place votes from their voting peers, and S&T is the defending West Division Champion. William Jewell (48) was picked to finish sixth, followed by Maryville (38) and Illinois Springfield (23).
Quincy is coming off a 28-21 season that ended in the GLVC Championship Tournament, following a 19-12 conference season and a third-place finish in the West. In 2011, then-first-year head coach Josh Rabe guided the Hawks to the program's second-ever GLVC Championship title, finishing with a 35-20 overall record.
Drury has already made headlines prior to the start of the season as just last week head coach Mark Stratton announced he is stepping aside for the 2013 season to focus on his rehabilitation from a recent stroke, while long-time assistant Scott Nasby will assume interim head coaching duties this spring. Stratton is the only coach in the program's six-year history, compiling a 175-134 record in six winning seasons.
The first pitch of the 2013 GLVC baseball season is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9, with Maryville traveling to Harding in Searcy, Ark. The conference office will host the 2013 GLVC Championship Tournament on May 9-12 at Bosse Field in Evansville, Ind.
The complete 2013 GLVC Baseball Coaches Preseason Poll follows:
2013 GLVC Baseball Preseason Poll – EAST DIVISION
|2.||Southern Indiana (1)||95|
2013 GLVC Baseball Preseason Poll – WEST DIVISION
|3.||Missouri-St. Louis (3)||91|