Get to Know These Position Players

Dodson McPherson
Sr. | OF | 6-2

McPherson was the SAC and Region Player of the Year, while earning first-team All-American accolades from the ABCA and NCBWA. He finished fifth in the Tino Martinez National Player of the Year Award voting, given to Division II's top player. McPherson was also named the SAC Male Athlete of the Year. He led the SAC in hits (92), runs (65), home runs (17), RBI (78), triples (five) and slugging percentage (.748). McPherson finished second in the league in batting average (.400), total bases (167) and on-base percentage (.466). He ranked in the top 10 nationally in hits (3rd), RBI (2nd), total bases (4th), home runs (5th), runs (8th) and slugging percentage (10th). McPherson led the team with 29 multi-hit games and 19 multi-RBI games. He reached base safely in 50 consecutive games and 55 of 56 in the 2011 season. McPherson had two hitting streaks of at least 14 games in the 2011 season as he scored a run or drove in a run in 50 games.

Steve Anderson
Grand Valley State
Sr. | OF | 6-2

Key Notes:
• Named a preseason All-American in 2012
• Hit .397 with 46 runs, 73 hits, 15 doubles, three triples, seven home runs, and 64 RBI in 2011
• Lead the Lakers with 24 multi-hit games and 20 multi-RBI games

Jess Cooper
West Texas A&M
Sr. | 1B | 6-2

Key Notes:
• Named the Lone Star Conference's Preseason Player of the Year in 2012
• Led Division II with a .494 average and .576 on-base percentage
• Added six home runs, 50 RBI en route to a first-team All-America selection

Stuart Drew
West Georgia
Sr. | 2B | 5-9

Key Notes:
• 2011 All-American and All-Gulf South Conference Conference team
• .440 average compiled of 80 hits, 49 runs scored, 25 RBI
• Finished 13th in the nation with 35 stolen bases in 38 attempts

Tanner Funk
Georgia College
Sr. | SS | 6-0

Key Notes:
• First team All-American last season and first-team Peach Belt Conference shortstop
• Hit .392 on a team-high 80 hits, including a team-best 20 doubles and two home runs
• Added 54 RBI and scored 45 runs

Danny Susdorf
UC San Diego
Sr. | OF | 5-11

Key Notes:
• All-West Region first team and All-CCAA first team
• Led the CCAA in hits, sacrifice flies and steal attempts while second in the league in batting average, at-bats and steals
• Only Triton to play in and start all 57 games

Keep an Eye on These Pitchers

Garrett Cole
Jr. | RHP | 5-11

Cole burst into the spotlight in his sophomore season with the River Hawks. He finished with a 7-1 record and tied for the national lead in all three divisions with an 0.82 ERA (Linfield's Robert Vaughn also had an 0.82 ERA in Division III). Cole pitched 65.2 innings and registered 57 strikeouts including a complete game, one-run masterpiece in the NCAA tournament against Dowling. He named to the NCBWA Preseason All-East Region first team and is on the preseason watch list for the Tino Martinez Player of the Year Award.

Braxton Lewis
Sr. | RHP | 6-0

Key Notes:
• First-team All-Peach Belt Conference selection and Peach Belt Conference Tournament MVP
• Allowed just two earned runs in 47 innings of relief work last season while recording a 7-1 record with a 0.38 ERA, nine saves and a pair of combined shutouts

Josh Pond
Cal St.-San Bernardino
Sr. | RHP | 6-6

Key Notes:
• Named first-team All-CCAA and third-team All-American in 2011
• Tied for Division II lead with 16 saves in 17 opportunities -- breaking the school and conference record
• Went 0-2 with a 1.54 ERA in 23 appearances as a junior

Don Sandifer
Francis Marion
Jr. | RHP | 6-2

Key Notes:
• Named a 2012 preseason All-American
• Went 11-3 with a 2.33 ERA as a sophomore in 2011
• Named Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year while leading the PBC in wins, opponents' batting average (.193) and strikeouts (105)

Ryan Thompson
Franklin Pierce
Jr. | RHP | 6-3

Key Notes:
• Tied the program record for wins in a single season with 11; owns the second-best ERA (1.23), the third-most strikeouts (114) and fourth-most innings pitched (95.0) as well
• Named first-team All-American after finishing fifth in Division II in ERA

Corey Witkowski
Sr. | LHP | 6-1

Key Notes:
• Started 13 games for the Bucs compiling an 11-1 record to go along with a 1.48 ERA
• Named South Region Pitcher of the Year after walking only 10 batters in 97.0 innings
• Led the team in wins, ERA and and complete games (3)

Follow Along with These Programs

Central Missouri
Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2011 Stats): Bret Schwartz (Sr., IF, .324, 3 HR, 42 RBI), Kurtis Schuyler (So., SP, 6-2, 3.05 ERA), Travis Unthank (Sr., RP, 3-0, 1.09).

Noting the Mules: Central Missouri advanced out of the NCAA South Central Regional a year ago to Cary, N.C. for the Division II Finals for the 16th time in program history, and there's no reason to believe 2012 won't see trip No. 17. The Mules were picked to once again win the MIAA after two consecutive league titles. Despite losing the top four hitters from a team that hit .320 in 2011, UCM will see one of its top starters (Kurtis Schuyler) and top relievers (Travis Unthank) return.

Mount Olive
Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2011 Stats):
Daniel Coffey (Sr., 1B, .307, 5 HR, 48 RBI), Matt Hinkle (1-0, 1.16 ERA), Jacob Rogers (Sr., 3B, .414, 4, 53).

Noting the Trojans: Mount Olive returns a number of key players from last year's squad that made a run to the Division II Finals. The Trojans finished the 2011 campaign with a 47-10 overall record and a 16-4 league mark. But the 2012 season might be more about replacing the big names lost from that team. Mount Olive will be without career home run leader Michael Knox, who was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 41st round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft. Knox belted a school-record 24 home runs in 2010 and followed with 23 homers in 2011. The Trojans will also have to replace a few key kogs on the mound after losing pitchers who accounted for 45 of last year's 47 wins, including consensus 2011 national Pitcher of the Year Carter Capps. Capps, who set an NCAA Division II record with 24 consecutive wins during his two-year career at Mount Olive, was picked in the third round of last year's MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners.

West Florida
Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2011 Stats):
Josh Huggins (Sr., 3B, .313, 6 HR, 40 RBI), Kevin Peters (So., SP, 5-1, 2.23 ERA), Andrew Rodriguez (Jr., OF, Transfer).

Noting the Argonauts: Coming off the first national championship in program history, West Florida will need to replace a lot of production if the Argonauts would like to make it two titles in a row. Five players were drafted off the 2011 championship team, including the three weekend starters and the top four hitters in a lineup that hit .326. Starter Josh Huggins will move from his midweek starting role to the top of the rotation for the Argos, after going 5-1 with a 2.23 ERA last season.

Other Teams to Watch: Columbus State, Emporia State, Francis Marion, Grand Valley State, Millersville, Tampa.

Top Contests to Watch in 2012

No. 2 Central Missouri -- April 27-29: at No. 8 Emporia State

No. 3 Grand Valley State -- March 7: vs. No. 21 Minnesota State-Mankato April 28-29: vs. Wayne State (Mich.)

No. 1 Mount Olive -- Feb. 18-19: vs. No. 26 LeMoyne Feb. 22: at No. 6 Francis Marion April 6-7: at No. 24 Limestone

No. 5 Tampa -- Feb. 24: vs. No. 4 West Florida March 20: vs. No. 14 Franklin Pierce April 13-14: vs. No. 15 Florida Southern

No. 4 West Florida -- Feb. 18-19, 26: at/vs. No. 15 Florida Southern March 6-7: vs. No. 9 Columbus State March 31-April 1: vs. Delta State

All photos courtesy of respective school athletic departments.