After a long weekend of Regional play, there are eight teams left in the DIII Baseball Championships. All eight teams heading to Wisconsin for the DIII championship were in the Top 25 of the last poll, with SUNY Cortland claiming the No. 1 spot, and St. John’s Fischer rounding it out in the No. 25 spot. This weekend, however, rankings don’t matter.
A national championship is often earned by the heroic play of a standout players. Sometimes that player is lesser known and provides a spark off the bench, but other times the best of the best find an extra gear this time of year, and excel on the biggest stage.
Here are a few names to keep an eye on as the DIII Baseball Championship get started.
Catcher — Senior Drew Butler, Trinity (Tx)
Butler is one of the finest hitting catchers in the land. This season he batted .360 with seven home runs, 46 RBI and 41 runs scored for No. 3-ranked Trinity and their second ranked run scoring team. He earned both All-Region and All-Tournament honors.
First Base — Senior Justin Anderson, UW-LA
No team has scored more runs in the nation or hit for a better average than No. 4-ranked Wisconsin-La Crosse. Front and center in their explosive attack is All-Midwest Region first baseman Justin Anderson. Anderson had a monster year, batting .464 (which is actually second on this offensive juggernaut) with a team best 11 home runs and 79 RBI.
Second Base — Senior Dylan Eisner, Emory
If No. 6-ranked Emory is going to return to the finals as they did in 2014, they are going to do it behind their pitching staff. But they need to score runs, and their cleanup hitter Eisner will be the catalyst. The All-South Region second baseman went 4-for-11 with four RBI in Emory’s sweep through the Regionals and will need to play big if they expect to go far this weekend.
Shortstop — Senior Mike Roman, St. John Fisher
Welcome the Cardinals to the field as they are appearing in their first DIII Baseball Championship. They got here by winning the Mid-Atlantic Regional, and the Most Outstanding Player in that Regional was Roman. He hit .471 during their run, driving in five and scoring five more. On the season, he hit .360 and tied for the team lead in runs scored with 48. Roman could be the spark from the three-hole that makes the Cardinals go.
Keep an eye on Trinity’s Connor Moore and his 30 stolen bases setting up their sluggers Butler and Wolf in the heart of the order as well.
Third Baseman — Freshman Cal Aldridge, Wisconsin-Whitewater
Aldridge had a monster debut season and capped it off with MVP honors in the Regionals this past weekend for the No. 14-ranked Warhawks. On the season, he was tied for the team lead in batting average (.402) and doubles (10) while blasting a team best 10 home runs and 43 RBI. He’s the youngest player on the list, but could be the most exciting.
Outfield — Junior Chris Triano, Keystone
The Purchase transfer spent his first year in Keystone as both their CSAC Tournament and New England Regional MVP. He also had a big season in the heart of their lineup, batting .386 and leading the team with 12 home runs, 64 RBI and 21 doubles. Triano needs just seven RBI to set the Keystone single-season mark.
Outfield — Senior Jeremy Wolf, Trinity (Tx)
Wolf was the West Region's Player of the Year, and when you look at his numbers, it was a no-brainer. Wolf batted .423 with 11 home runs and 64 RBI. Batting in front of Drew Butler, the duo makes it rough on opposing pitchers. Their first round matchup with UW LA should be an exciting one. Wolf has put himself in conversation for the DIII Player of the Year and you can expect him to be atop his game this weekend.
Outfield — Senior Taylor Kohlway, UW-LA
All Kohlway did this season is lead the nation in batting. Sitting at .492 heading into the weekend, he has the highest batting average of any player on any level of collegiate baseball. He won his conference (WIAC) Player of the Year Award as well as the Midwest Region Player of the Year, you can bet he has his eyes on the CWS Most Outstanding Player award.
Outfield — Junior Luis Navedo, La Roche
Navedo enjoyed a breakout season for the Redhawks. He batted .421 with nine home runs for the comeback kids at La Roche. Faced with elimination in both postseason tournaments, Navedo and the Redhawks refused to lose, with Navedo belting two doubles in the Regional clinching game.
Starting Pitcher — Senior Seth Lamando, SUNY Cortland
Look at Lamando's numbers -- 9-0. 0.80 ERA. 81 strikeouts and just eight walks over 79 innings. He was the All-New York Region Pitcher of the Year, and is coming off a career best 14-strikeout performance in this year’s Regional win. Lamando has a win in the DIII championship en route to Cortland’s title last season, it will be exciting to see what he does for an encore.
Relief Pitcher — Junior Kyle Monk, Emory
Emory’s pitching staff leads all of DIII with a 2.59 ERA. It’s nice to know that they can hand the ball to one of the better relievers in DII as well. He has 11 saves and a 1.24 ERA. Emory will be led by their pitching staff, so Monk will be relied upon to close out big games.