Central Region Preview
Illinois Wesleyan is the defending national champion, but the Titans have the odds stacked against them to win another title. No team has repeated as champs since Rowan in 1978 and 1979.
But the co-champions of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin won’t go down without a fight as they begin their quest at Horenberger Field in Bloomington, Ill. The Titans (26-16) are in the tournament for the sixth time in the last eight years and are paced at the plate by Kevin Callahan. Callahan is batting .405 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI.
Jonathan Erickson is hitting .368 and has knocked in 24 runs while Jason Panaku has been a force on the mound all season. He is 7-2 with a 1.48 ERA. Panaku has struck out 82 and has walked only 11 batters.
It is Coe College, though, that comes into the tournament as the top seed. The Kohawks (32-10) set a record for most wins in a season and are in the regional for the first time since 2006 after winning the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Coe has won its last 12 games and will take on a Ripon team that it has never beaten in six tries. Nick Stein will lead the Kohawks into action, batting .386 with 48 runs and 51 RBI. He has also belted eight home runs.
Sean Raisch is hitting 400 in 80 at-bats and has made the most of his opportunities by driving in 35 runs. Scott DeAngelis is a threat at the plate as well, hitting .363 and scoring 31 runs on the season.
Wade Morris and Kevin Baranowski are two of the key pitchers for Coe, Morris is 10-2 with a 2.47 ERA and has allowed only nine extra-base hits. Baranowski is 9-2 despite having a 3.56 ERA. He has recorded 33 strikeouts.
• Ripon won its 19th Midwest Conference championship and is playing in the NCAA tourney for the 10th time in the last 13 years. The Red Hawks (20-18) have never played in the college world series and have only one pitcher with more than four wins. Kurt Roeder is 7-3 with a 3.31 ERA. He has tallied 33 strikeouts.
Nick Beaman has fueled Ripon offensively, hitting .407 with 44 RBI. Beaman has hit 12 doubles and five home runs as well and has scored 31 times. Josh Hendrickson (.400 with 15 doubles and 29 RBI.
• Carthage is making its 18th trip to the NCAA tourney and has been solid on the hill all season. The Red Men (29-10) have issued only 85 walks as a staff and have a team ERA of 3.06.
Eric Rohe has led the way with a 4-2 mark. He has issued just nine walks and has struck out 43. Danny Dahm is 4-0 with a 3.36 ERA and 47 strikeouts.
• Buena Vista was the runner-up at the regional last season and is back in the tournament for the fourth time in school history. It also made the tournament in 1980 and 1981.
Michael Hoffman has had a knack for bringing runs across the plate, tallying 44 RBI and hitting .327 on the season. Sixteen of his 54 hits are doubles. Luke Probasco has been one of the team’s top pitchers, going 7-3 with a 3.38 ERA. He has 56 strikeouts.
• Thomas More enters the tourney as the President’s Athletic Conference champion. The Saints are making their fourth tournament appearance and are led by PAC Player of the Year Andrew Thole.
The standout is batting .402 and is a threat to hit for extra bases every time he steps up to the plate Thole has tallied 12 doubles and 17 home runs this season, knocking in 52 runs as well. Sam Schmeltzer (.422, 49 RBI) has been tough at the plate as well. David Etscheid is 6-1 with a 2.36 ERA and has struck out 31.