Defending NEAC Champion Penn State Berks Tops 2017 Baseball Preseason Poll

Defending NEAC Champion Penn State Berks Tops 2017 Baseball Preseason Poll

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – The Penn State Berks Nittany Lions will enter the 2017 season as the favorites to win the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) after claiming the top spot in the baseball coaches’ preseason poll rankings. 

Penn State Berks received seven of nine first-place votes to earn a total of 63 points. The Nittany Lions are returning 13 players and six starters from a 2016 team that had a historic run in which they set a school record for wins in a season with a 24-13 overall record and advanced the furthest in the NCAA Tournament in program history. Sophomore Toby Welk (Downingtown, Pa.) will look to build upon an outstanding rookie campaign where he posted a .364 batting average with seven doubles, one triple, three home runs and 38 RBIs. The 2016 NEAC Rookie of the Year appeared in 36 games, ending the year with a .504 slugging percentage and a .453 on-base percentage. Penn State Berks will also look for leadership from a pair of seniors in 2016 NEAC First Team All-Conference Selection John McGarvey (Wilmington, Del.) and Zach Reis (Womelsdorf, Pa.). McGarvey led the team with a .542 slugging percentage while Reis had a .380 batting average in 40 plate appearances.

On the mound, Reis and senior Mitch Renninger (Boyertown, Pa.) will look to help Penn State Berks make up for the loss of 2016 NEAC Pitcher of the Year Sean Pavlik. Reis and Renninger combined for 92.1 innings last season to give the Nittany Lions seven wins, one save, and one complete game.

Lancaster Bible College edged out Penn State Abington for second place in the preseason poll. The Chargers received one first-place vote, five second-place votes, and two third-place votes to compile 55 total points. In 2016, Lancaster Bible advanced to the conference tournament for the first time, entering the NEAC playoffs as the No. 3 seed. The Chargers return 17 players and seven starters, including D3Baseball.com Preseason All-American and the 2016 NEAC Player of the Year, Justin Taylor. Taylor finished the 2016 season with a .461 batting average, .929 slugging percentage, 13 doubles, one triple, 17 home runs, and 56 RBIs. 

Penn State Abington was picked to finish third with one first-place vote and a total of 50 points. First Team All-Conference Selection Matt Meyers (Cheltenham, Pa.) returns for his junior year as one of Penn State Abington’s biggest offensive threats. Meyers posted a .446 batting average with 20 doubles and 30 RBIs in 2016.

The middle of the poll saw three closely-ranked teams as SUNY Polytechnic took fourth place with 39 points. Keuka College followed in fifth with 37 points and Penn College placed sixth with 31 points. Gallaudet University and Cazenovia College took seventh and eighth, respectively, while Wells College rounded out the poll in ninth place. The Express and head coach David Valesente will be joining the NEAC in 2017 for their inaugural season.

The full baseball preseason rankings can be found below:

Rank Institution (First-Place Votes) Total Points
1 Penn State Berks (7) 63
2 Lancaster Bible College (1) 55
3 Penn State Abington (1) 50
4 SUNY Polytechnic 39
5 Keuka College 37
6 Penn College 31
7 Gallaudet University 25
8 Cazenovia College 16
9 Wells College 8


The preseason poll rankings were conducted by the NEAC baseball coaches, with each coach ranking all teams but their own using a staggered points system (eight points for a first-place vote, seven points for second, etc.). The 2017 NEAC baseball season will officially begin Friday afternoon, with a full season schedule being available on the NEAC website here.  

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The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has fourteen NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Bryn Athyn College, Cazenovia College, College of St. Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University – Abington, Pennsylvania State University – Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Wells College, and Wilson College.  Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (M Volleyball), Hilbert College (M&W Lacrosse, M Volleyball), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse, M Volleyball), Pennsylvania State University – Altoona (M Volleyball), and Rutgers University – Camden (M Golf).  The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of field hockey and men’s and women’s tennis.  For more information, please visit: www.neacsports.com.