The Raiders, who won both the regular-season title and tournament crown last season to advance to their third NCAA regional in the last six years, were an unanimous selection for the top spot as they received the first-place votes from the league’s other five coaches (Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams) for 25 points. UIC, which picked up the other first-place vote, was second with19 points, followed by Valparaiso (16), Milwaukee (15), Butler (10) and Youngstown State (5).
Wright State, under eighth-year head coach Rob Cooper, the reigning Horizon League Coach of the Year the past two seasons, returns 19 letterwinners from last season’s squad, including 2011 Horizon League First Team honorees Michael Schum, Corey Davis, Jake Hibberd, Zach Tanner, Justin Kopale and Tristan Moore.
Schum (Bright, IN/East Central) was the Horizon League Relief Pitcher of the Year and a First Team All-League selection in 2011. He finished 13th in Division I in walks allowed per nine innings (1.02), 47th in victories with nine and 58th in saves with nine while striking out 41 in 53 innings.
Schum was also named to the Horizon League All-Tournament Team as he did not allow a run in two appearances, earning the save in the winner’s bracket final against Valparaiso and picking up the win in the championship game versus the Crusaders.
Davis (Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas) had quite a first year for the Raiders after transferring from Mount Hood Community College. Named First Team All-League, Davis was also selected as the Newcomer of the Year as he was one behind Hibberd in the home run race with eight, ranked fifth in the league in slugging percentage (.540) and RBI (4) and was tied for eighth in doubles (15). Davis was later named to the Horizon League All-Tournament Team after hitting .444 in three games with three RBI and three runs scored.
Hibberd (Miamisburg, OH/Miamisburg) had a monster season for WSU in 2011 as he was selected as the Horizon League Player of the Year and was a First Team All-League honoree. He led the league in all three Triple Crown categories (.407 batting average, nine home runs, 56 RBI) and appeared in the Division I rankings in each of those categories (14th in average, 133rd in home runs and 71st in RBI).
Hibberd also was ranked nationally in hits (10th with 96), doubles (44th with 21), slugging percentage (64th at .610), total bases (30th with 144) and on-base percentage (147th at .445).
Tanner (Muncie, IN/Yorktown), another First Team All-League honoree in 2011 as well as part of the All-Newcomer Team, finished third in the league in hitting (.374) in his first year for the Raiders after transferring from Lincoln Trail Community College. He was also tied for third in hits (80) and total bases (118), fourth in slugging percentage (.551), seventh in runs scored (45) and tied for seventh in home runs (5). Tanner was also the 2011 Horizon League Tournament MVP after hitting .538 with two doubles, a triple, four RBI and four runs scored in three games.
Kopale (Oak Forest, IL/St. Rita) also was a First Team All-League selection last season as he hit .321 with 21 runs scored and had a .392 on-base percentage. Kopale recorded 14 multi-hit games on the season, including three hits against Oakland, Le Moyne and UIC, and drove in three at Elon and Le Moyne. He also was an All-Tournament Team honoree as he hit .500 in three games and delivered a game-tying home run in the championship contest against Valparaiso.
Moore (New Albany, OH/New Albany) received First Team All-League honors last season as he came on strong the final two months of the season, leading the league in triples with six and was third in slugging percentage at .562. Moore also ranked in the conference’s top 10 in runs scored, RBI, total bases, on-base percentage, batting average, hits, doubles, home runs and walks.
Moore’s numbers in league play were even more impressive as he led the circuit with a .464 average, a .680 slugging percentage, a .514 on-base percentage, 45 hits, 10 doubles, four triples and 66 total bases. He also tied for second in RBI with 25. He also was a part of the All-Tournament Team after hittting .417 with three RBI.
Wright State, who posted a 36-19 overall record in 2011 and won the Horizon League regular-season title with a mark of 16-7, ranked second nationally in batting average (.323), 16th in slugging percentage (.457), 32nd in triples (20), 34th in scoring (6.8 runs per game) and 37th in hits (622). The Raiders open the 2012 campaign with four games February 17-19, taking on Monmouth, Bryant and Canisius at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, North Carolina along with a matchup at North Carolina State.
The 2012 Horizon League Baseball Championship is set for May 23-26 in Chicago, Illinois, with the winner of the double-elimination tournament receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The complete poll results are as follows:
Rank Team (2011 Record) Points (First Place Votes)
1. Wright State (36-19, 16-7 Horizon) 25 (5)
2. UIC (28-26, 16-7) 19 (1)
3. Valparaiso (25-32, 14-10) 16
4. Milwaukee (28-28-1, 15-10-1) 15
5. Butler (23-28-1, 11-14-1) 10
6. Youngstown State (14-41, 7-16) 5