ASHLAND, Ohio – The Ashland University baseball team was picked to finish third in the preseason GLIAC coaches' poll, the league office announced Thursday (Feb. 16) afternoon.
The Eagles received one first-place vote by the league's coaches. Grand Valley State, a 2011 NCAA Division II World Series participant, was picked to win the league title, garnering eight of the 10 first-place votes. Wayne State was picked second and Saginaw Valley State was picked fourth (see poll results below).
The Eagles, who were 30-21 overall and finished third in the GLIAC last season, are led by a pair of preseason All-Midwest Region performers in third baseman Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) and right-hander Aaron Hilt (Richmond, Ohio/Edison).
Gray is coming of a strong freshman season that saw him hit .335 (55-for-164) with nine doubles and 29 RBI. He had a .411 on-base percentage and stole four bases.
Hilt was 5-5 with a 2.33 ERA in his junior season. He appeared in 10 games and made eight starts, including five complete games. Hilt struck out 45 batters in 54 innings pitched. He allowed just six extra-base hits last season.
The Eagles also return junior first baseman Austin Erb (Mechanicsville, Va./Hanover), who was second on the team in hitting (.350). He also hit a pair of home runs and had 19 RBI. AU will also rely on outfielders, senior Ethan Houck (Fort Wayne, Ind./Glen Oaks CC) and junior Shayne Herold (LeRoy, N.Y./Genesee CC). Each of them started at least 29 games last season.
Junior right-hander Brad Thomas (Orrville, Ohio) will help anchor the AU starting staff and went 5-4 last season with a 4.91 ERA.
The Eagles are coached by John Schaly, who is in his 15th season at the end of the AU bench. He is 910-469 overall and 547-251 in his AU career. The Eagles have been to the NCAA Division II World Series four times under Schaly's guidance.
Ashland opens the season on March 2 against Minnesota State-Mankato at the Russ Matt Invitational in Auburndale, Fla.
Below is the 2012 GLIAC Preseason Coaches' Poll
|Team (first-place votes)||Points|
|1. Grand Valley State (8)||80|
|2. Wayne State||68|
|3. Ashland (1)||65|
|4. Saginaw Valley State||56|
|5. Ohio Dominican||47|
|7. Tiffin (1)||32|
|8. Lake Erie||31|