NORTON, Mass. — Wheaton (Mass.) has been ranked No. 1 in the D3baseball.com Top 25 Preseason Poll after receiving eight first-place votes and 594 points total.
Wheaton topped St. Thomas (Minn.) by eight points and Marietta, the defending national champions, by 16 points to earn the top spot.
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SUNY Cortland checked in at No. 4 in the poll with 564 points while Whitworth rounded out the top five with 457 points. Region foes St. Joseph’s (Maine), Western New England and Trinity (Conn.) are also all ranked in the top 25. St. Joseph’s checked in at 14th, Western New England ranks 15th and Trinity has been tabbed as No. 19.
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 NEWMAC. Wheaton returns its top three hitters from a year ago in senior Sean Ryan and sophomores Apolinar De la Cruz and Tyler Contillo.
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 while De la Cruz hit .376/.443/.455 and Contillo compiled a .360/.500/.360 line at the plate.
On the hill, senior D3baseball.com preseason All-American Frank Holbrook returns to lead the Wheaton pitching staff which ranked 10th 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.
Junior closer Ryan Grant 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), 10th 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.