Feb. 20, 2013
BAY CITY, Mich. - The Grand Valley State baseball team has been picked as the favorite in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference by the coaches for the 2013 season, garnering seven first place votes and 117 points in the poll.
The conference's head coaches participated in the balloting, but were not allowed to vote for their own team.
The Lakers, who compiled a 43-16 overall record last season that included an 11th straight trip to the NCAA Division II postseason, won both the GLIAC regular season and tournament championships.
GVSU received seven of 11 first place votes in the poll and 117 total points. Wayne State captured four first place votes and 104 total points, while Ashland claimed the lone remaining first place vote and 97 points. Saginaw Valley State (88), Lake Erie (75), Ohio Dominican (73), Tiffin (65), Northwood (39), Malone (37), Hillsdale (31), Findlay (30) and Walsh (28) rounded out the preseason coaches' poll.
The Lakers are returning 13 letterwinners and eight starters from the 2012 squad.
2013 will be the first season for GVSU under the tutelage of new head coach Jamie Detillion, who spent the last 10 years as an assistant with the Lakers. In the last 10 years, GVSU has went 426-148-2 (.741) with 10 NCAA Division II tournament appearances, five NCAA Division II Midwest regional championships, five NCAA Division II World Series appearances and nine GLIAC titles.
The Lakers will return three of the five main starters in the infield from the 2012 season, including all-region performers Kevin Zak, a sophomore, and junior Giancarlo Brugnoni. Senior Stephen Claypool will also return, while the Lakers will look to replace a pair of senior catchers who were behind the plate during last year. Zak finished the season with a .377 batting average, 72 hits, 47 RBI, 96 total bases, a .427 on-base percentage and a .503 slugging percentage while earning all-region honors from every publication. Brugnoni was a First Team All-Midwest region performer by ABCA and Daktronics after hitting .339 with three triples, 15 homers, 48 RBI, 116 total bases, a .441 on-base percentage and a team-leading .655 slugging percentage. Junior Stuart Eisler, a newcomer to the Laker program, was an all-region performer at Macomb Community College last year playing short stop.
In the outfield, GVSU will look to replace All-American and GLIAC Co-Player of the Year Steve Anderson. The Lakers will, however, return GLIAC and NCBWA Midwest Region Freshman of the Year Mike Nadratowski, who led GVSU in batting average (.414), runs (51), hits (79), stolen bases (21) and was second on the team in on-base percentage (.496) as the lead-off hitter. GVSU also returns senior Chris Rudenga, a three-year starter who hit .304 last season with 22 RBI, a .361 on-base percentage and was a perfect 8-for-8 on stolen base attempts. Sophomore Jamie Potts took hold of the designated hitter position near the end of 2012 and will look to cement himself in to an outfielder spot this year after hitting .313 with six doubles, 15 RBI and a .433 slugging percentage last season.
The starting rotation for the Lakers will have to be re-done in 2013, as the team loses three of its top four starters. Senior Anthony Campanella returns after going 8-2 with a 3.08 ERA and two complete games in 2012. Also returning for the Lakers will be senior All-American Brad Zambron, who set a new single-season GVSU and GLIAC record with 16 saves. Zambron now has 25 career saves, one shy of the GVSU and GLIAC career records and six shy of the NCAA Division II career record. Senior Kyle Teague, who redshirted in 2012 due to transfer rules, will be a key contributor to the rotation, while juniors Sean Clancy and Chris Ward will also look to be part of the main group of starting pitchers.
The Lakers will kick off the 2013 season this weekend, playing three games against Missouri S&T in Rolla, Mo., weather permitting. The two teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday (Feb. 23) beginning at noon, and then a single nine-inning contest on Sunday (Feb. 24) at noon.
To read the full GLIAC release for the Preseason Baseball Coaches' Poll, click here.