LOCK HAVEN, Pa. — The Millersville University Marauders and Seton Hill University Griffins were picked as the frontrunners of their respective divisions in the 2023 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Preseason Poll voted on by league head coaches, the league office announced Thursday.
Over in the West, Seton Hill, who missed out on the PSAC tournament but made it to the NCAA DII Atlantic Region tournament finishing with a 33-19-1 overall record was picked first receiving four first-place votes. The Griffins return a pair of key players in NCBWA Preseason All-Region honorees Jack Oberdorf, Owen Sabol, and Caiden Wood. Oberdorf hit .37 with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs in 2022, while Sabol hit .298 and was 15-of-21 in stolen-base attempts. Reliever Wood tallied a 3.91 ERA while punching out 57 batters over 48.1 innings pitched.
Picked second among the coaches was the third-seeded team in the league tournament last year in Mercyhurst. The Lakers were 31-17 overall and 16-12 in league contests in 2022. They’ll bring back one of the top DHs in the region in Luke Jackson who hit .279 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs in 2022 while recording a .406 on-base percentage.
Selected third are the Gannon Golden Knights who put together a fantastic year in the PSAC West and overall, in 2022 going 29-17 and 20-8 in league contests winning the PSAC West regular season crown and earning the top seed in the tournament. The Golden Knights had three first-place votes in the voting, and they’ll return one of the best first basemen in the conference in Ian Hess. He hit .307 with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs while slugging .587 last year.
Fourth in the West is Slippery Rock who also nabbed one first-place vote among the coaches after a year in which it was 33-18 overall and 17-11 in PSAC West play. The Rock also landed five preseason NCBWA All-Atlantic Region honorees including Devin Dunn, Alex Robenolt, Koby Bubash, Eddie Morris, and Luke Trueman.
Behind The Rock in fifth is IUP, who put together a solid year under a new head coach in 2022 going 27-22 overall and 16-12 in PSAC games. The Crimson Hawks will look to make a run at the tournament in 2023. Rounding out the eight Western Division teams is California (Pa.), Pitt-Johnstown, and Clarion, respectively.
As the defending PSAC Tournament Champions, Millersville was predicted as the top team in the East with three first-place votes. The Marauders have high expectations for the 2023 season as shown by their No. 2 ranking in the NCBWA Atlantic Region Preseason Poll. Part of Millersville’s expected success is due to the return of their All-American duo of Thomas Caufield and Bren Taylor. Named the 2022 PSAC East Athlete of the Year, Caufield led the conference with 78 RBIs and broke the Millersville record for home runs with 16 on the year. Taylor led the league, and also broke a program record, with 79 runs scored while hitting .425 for a top-3 average in the PSAC.
Also grabbing three first-place nods from coaches is West Chester in the second slot. Ranked No. 1 in the NCBWA Regional Preseason Poll, the Golden Rams come off a season in which they made an impressive postseason run to the NCAA National Semifinals. Looking to repeat last year’s success, Atlantic Region Coach of the Year, Mike LaRosa, returns to lead the team. Under his leadership in 2022, the Golden Rams won the second seed in the East with a 36-15 overall, 17-7 PSAC record.
East Stroudsburg landed in the third spot with another trio of first-place votes. The Warriors had a historic 2022 season that saw them advance to Super Regionals for the first time in program history, in addition to setting a school record for wins with a 41-20 overall mark. NCBWA All-Atlantic Region First Team pitcher Chase Nowak returns for 2023, as does PSAC East Freshman of the Year, Jack Rothenhausler.
In fourth, ranks Shippensburg. Following a 16-8 finish in the conference for third seed last season, the Raiders bring back 2022 team batting leader Joe Barbera and PSAC East Coach of the Year, Matt Jones.
The rest of the poll is rounded out by Bloomsburg, Shepherd, Mansfield, Lock Haven, and Kutztown in that order.
D9/10 Alums on PSAC Baseball Rosters
Mercyhurst: Chris Juchno (McDowell), Ryan Rafalski (Warren), Lucas Folmar (Harbor Creek), Mitchell Grosch (Warren), Casey Smith (Harbor Creek), Aidan Morrison (Warren), Aiden Kelly (Harbor Creek), Luke Jackson (McDowell), Matt Shepard (McDowell), Cody Smith (Harbor Creek), Ben Berdine (Warren), Zack Danias (Mercyhurst Prep), Hayden Zaffino (Mercyhurst Prep), Chris Smith (Cathedral Prep), Jack Malec (Cathedral Prep), Patrick Sullivan (Cathedral Prep)
Gannon: Reece Colvin (Cathedral Prep), Branden Myers (Hickory), Carson Whiteman (Kane), Cam Marciniak (Johnsonburg), Jared Bielanin (McDowell), Ryan Smerkar (Strong Vincent), Marshall Murray (West Middlesex), Jaret Boyer (Wilmington), Corey Shields (Fort LeBoeuf), Connor Rakow (Franklin), Jacob Engel (Cathedral Prep), Joey Fazzone (Hickory), Carson Wible (Franklin), David Duffalo (Slippery Rock)
Slippery Rock: Noah Ross (Cochranton), Zach Wilson (Meadville), Calen Bender (Wilmington), Branson Carson (Moniteau), Ian Balquist (Slippery Rock)
IUP: Eli Glass (Clearfield), Bryson Bain (Redbank Valley)
California: Garrett Clark (McDowell)
Pitt-Johnstown: Ethan Wells (Johnsonburg), Garrett Prosper (DuBois Central Catholic)
Clarion: Daren Byers (Punxsutawney), Brycen Dinkfelt (DuBois), Isaac Schleich (Wilmington)
Lock Haven: Garrett Starr (DuBois), Nate Farrell (DuBois), Lance Baldensperger (Warren)
2023 PSAC Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll Results
EAST (# of First-Place Votes)
1. Millersville (3)
2. West Chester (3)
3. East Stroudsburg (3)
8. Lock Haven
1. Seton Hill (4)
3. Gannon (3)
4. Slippery Rock (1)
6. California (Pa.)