The Wheaton College baseball team has been ranked first overall in the latest D3baseball.com Top 25 Preseason Poll after receiving eight first place votes and 594 points total. The Lyons are now ranked first overall in two separate preseason polls with their first place selection to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Preseason Poll earlier this month.
Wheaton topped St. Thomas by eight points and Marietta, the defending NCAA Division III national champions, by 16 points to earn the number one spot in the preseason poll. The D3baseball.com Top 25 Poll is voted on by a panel of 25 coaches, Sports Information Directors and media members from across the country and is published weekly.
Cortland State checks in at fourth overall in the poll with 564 points while Whitworth rounds out the top-5 with 457 points. Region foes St. Joseph's (Maine), Western New England and Trinity (Conn.) all rank inside the top-25, respectively. St. Joseph's checks in at 14th overall, Western New England ranks 15th and Trinity has been tabbed as the 19th best team in the country.
The Lyons finished the 2012 season with a 41-11 record, the second most wins in program history, and a 16-2 mark in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC). Wheaton returns its top three hitters from a year ago in senior Sean Ryan (Norton, Mass./Norton), sophomore Apolinar De la Cruz (Providence, R.I./Classical) and classmate Tyler Contillo (Montville, Conn./Montville).
Ryan posted a .384 batting average, a .402 on-base percentage and a .531 slugging percentage. Ryan led the team in batting average and slugging percentage wile De la Cruz hit .376/.443/.455 and Contillo compiled a .360/.500/.360 slash line at the plate.
On the hill, senior D3baseball.com preseason All-American Frank Holbrook (Middletown, R.I./Portsmouth Abbey School) returns to lead the Wheaton pitching staff which ranked tenth overall, nationally, in earned run average (ERA) last spring (2.80). Holbrook went 10-0 overall in 84.2 innings pitched, struck out 52 batters and held opponents to a .229 batting average.
Since 2008, the Lyons have had two players named to the D3baseball.com Preseason All-America team and two players earn honorable mention accolades. Dan Haugh '12 (Andover, Mass./St. John's Prep) was chosen to the first team in 2012 and Adam Gingras '09 (Woonsocket, R.I.) was selected to the second team in 2009. Nolan Corr '12 (Somersworth, N.H./Saint Thomas Aquinas) received honorable mention status in 2011 while De la Cruz picked up identical honors this season.
Junior closer Ryan Grant (Easton, Mass./Avon Old Farms School) will control the backend up the bullpen for the Lyons after finishing the 2012 season ranked no.1 overall in the nation in saves with 14. In 26.2 innings pitched, Grant struck out 18 batters and held opponents to a .200 batting average in 24 appearances.
As a team, Wheaton ranked seventh in the country in hits (555), tenth in ERA and 27th overall in runs scored (330). Ryan's 86 hits last year were good enough for second overall in the country while Holbrook check in at ninth overall in ERA for the season.
The Lyons open up their 2013 season on Saturday, March 2 against St. Joseph's (Long Island) at 11:00 a.m. in Patchogue, N.Y.