Two-Time Defending NEAC Champion Penn State Berks Tops Preseason Baseball Poll

Two-Time Defending NEAC Champion Penn State Berks Tops Preseason Baseball Poll

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – After claiming back-to-back conference championships, the Penn State Berks baseball team was picked to repeat in the 2018 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Baseball Preseason Poll.

With five first-place votes and a total of 77 points, the conference coaches placed Penn State Berks in the top spot of this season’s rankings. Head Coach Justin Konnick and the Nittany Lions return six starters from last year’s championship squad, including reigning NEAC Player of the Year Toby Welk (Downington, Pa.). In 2017, Welk posted a .400 batting average with 15 doubles, five triples, five home runs and 47 RBIs. The Nittany Lions’ third baseman also boasted a .424 on-base percentage and a .645 slugging percentage in just his second season. First Team All-Conference selection Cory Fox (Boyertown, Pa.) and Dalton Hughes (Boyertown, Pa.) will return to patrol the outfield after combining for 55 RBIs last season. On the mound, First Team All-NEAC honoree Tyler Comport (Boyertown, Pa.) prepares for his senior season after sporting a 2.65 ERA with 57 strikeouts. Outside of conference play, Penn State Berks will matchup against Christopher Newport, Immaculata and Catholic University of America in non-conference games.

NEAC Runner-Up Penn College ranked second in this year’s poll with 73 points and three first-place votes. NEAC Rookie of the Year Ben Flicker (Topton, Pa.) leads a group of seven starters and 21 returners that finished 2017 with a 25-13 overall record. In an outstanding first season, Flicker finished the year with a .368 batting average, 30 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. Sophomore catcher Brittan Kittle (Millville, Pa.) will also be looked to as an impact player after earning Second Team All-Conference honors in 2017 while First Team pitcher Max Bair (Centre Hall, Pa.) will bring a veteran presence to the mound in his senior year. While head coach Chris Howard will have his group working for a return to the postseason, the Wildcats’ non-conference slate will include games against Mansfield University, Catholic University and New England College.

Penn State Abington comes in third in the preseason rankings with 64 points and one first-place vote. The Nittany Lions will be led by first year head coach Josh Copskey who inherits a team that went 11-3 against NEAC opponents in 2017. Penn State Abington will turn to junior Tyler DiPatri (Pedricktown, N.J.) and Second Team All-Conference shortstop Stevie Stevenson (Westhampton, N.J.) to lead the offense after driving in 22 and 23 RBIs, respectively, last season. The Nittany Lions’ non-conference slate will feature Rowan, Frostburg State and TCNJ.

With 59 points, Keuka College rounds out the top four in the poll and receives the final first-place vote. The Wolves return an experienced group with 11 starters and 26 returners, led by senior outfielder Dakota Skinner (Waverly, N.Y.). Skinner finished the 2017 season with a .436 batting average, 58 hits and 21 RBIs to earn All-Conference First Team honors. Second Team All-NEAC pitcher Bryan Johnsen (Otisville, N.Y.) leads a group a solid arms after going 5-0 with a 3.59 ERA and 43 strikeouts last season. A challenging non-conference schedule awaits the Wolves with games against Wisconsin-Whitewater, R.I.T. and Brockport.

The full 2018 baseball preseason rankings can be found below:

Rank Institution (First-Place Votes) Total Points
1.  Penn State Berks (5) 77
2. Penn College (3) 73
3. Penn State Abington (1) 64
4. Keuka College (1) 59
5. Lancaster Bible 53
6. SUNY Poly 39
7. Wells College 34
8. Gallaudet University 24
9. Cazenovia College 19
10. SUNY Cobleskill 11

 

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 (nine points for a first-place vote, eight points for second, etc.). The 2018 NEAC baseball season will begin Feb. 16 with a full season schedule being available on the NEAC website

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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), 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 tennis. For more information, please visit: www.neacsports.com.