Cleveland, Ohio – Defending MAC Regular Season Champion Kent State and Western Michigan have been chosen by the league’s head coaches to win their respective divisions, released today by the league office. The Golden Flashes were also selected by nine of the leagues coaches to take home the 2009 MAC Tournament title.
The Broncos were followed by Ball State in the West, while Central Michigan was picked to finish third. Northern Illinois was selected to finish in fourth place, while Eastern Michigan and new head coach Jay Alexander were tabbed to place fifth. Toledo rounded out this year’s West Division preseason predictions.
Ohio was picked to finish second in the East Division and was followed by Bowling Green in third place. Miami, Akron and Buffalo rounded out the remaining spots in the East.
Kent State returns 23 letterwinners, including eight position starters and two pitchers from its 2008 squad that went 36-21 (16-8 MAC) and finished as the runner-up in the 2008 MAC Baseball Tournament. Among those returning is Greg Rohan, who returns as the starting first baseman for the Flashes. The two-time captain and reigning MAC Player of the Year batted .355 with 70 hits, including a team-high 20 home runs and 18 doubles, drove in a team-high 61 runs, and hit a team-best .443 on-base percentage. He also led the conference with a .772 slugging percentage.
Western Michigan finished with a 29-23-1 (12-12 MAC) will return seven starters from the field and two starting pitchers in Billy Morrison and Brian Stroud. WMU also retains two of its top three relievers from 2008 in juniors Tim Mowry and Derek Mosher. Several all-conference candidates will be back for the 2009 campaign, including Morrison, Stroud, and Lewis, as well as senior outfielder Pedro Dager (second-team 2008) and senior catcher Nathan Marquardt (second-team 2006), who sat out the 2008 season after shoulder surgery.
The MAC baseball season begins tomorrow with a full slate of games. Conference play will begin on Friday, March 20 and the season will culminate with the conference tournament, which takes place May 20-23.
2008 MAC Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Kent State
3. Bowling Green
1. Western Michigan
2. Ball State
3. Central Michigan
4. Northern Illinois
5. Eastern Michigan
Tournament Champion: Kent State (9), Western Michigan (1), Central Michigan (1), Miami (1)