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Baseball Turns to Experienced Roster for 2019 Season

Baseball Turns to Experienced Roster for 2019 Season

DEFIANCE, OHIO - The Defiance College baseball team will look to plenty of returning talent for the 2019 season. Head Coach Derek Woodley enters his 12th season at the helm of the Yellow Jacket baseball program. DC will look to find their way back into Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament action after missing out on post-season play the past few years. 2018 saw the Yellow Jackets finish 14-20 overall with a 7-11 mark in HCAC play. 

PITCHERS

Defiance does not have to look far for an experienced pitching staff, as DC will return a plethora of pitchers for the 2019 season. Jon Brown (Haskins/Ostego) led DC in time on the mound in 2018 with 59.2 innings pitched. The junior is coming off a year in which he accumulated 11 appearances with nine starts on the mound. The Haskins native boasted a 3.62 ERA while allowing 62 hits and tallying 29 strikeouts, earning him HCAC Honorable Mention honors. 

Troy Konwinski (Allen Park, Mich. / Allen Park) will return for his senior campaign. After picking up All-HCAC recognition for his efforts in 2018, the senior will look to pick up where he left off. Konwinski made 13 appearances in the Purple and Gold, six of which came as a start. The Allen Park, Mich. native had a team-high four saves during the 2018 season while also throwing two complete games. 

After leading the Yellow Jackets in appearances on the mound last season, Cohen Nies (Logansport, Ind./Lewis-Cass) will look to make a big impact in his sophomore season with DC. Nies boasted a team-high 33 strikeouts during the 2018 campaign, while allowing 37 hits and just 21 walks in his 38.0 innings pitched. 

Senior Paris Creek (Bryan/Bryan) comes off a junior season plagued with injury. The Byran native posted a sophomore campaign in which he featured in 19 games, allowing a team-best 1.87 ERA. The senior will look to return to his position as a key member of Woodley's pitching staff during the 2019 season.

There is plenty of depth on the pitching roster as juniors Will Bohlman (Centerville/Centerville), Kody King (Cecil/Fairview), Zac Brazen (Oxford/Talawanda), Grant Curavo (Northwood/Cardinal Stritch Catholic), and Garrett Enders (Arcadia/Arcadia) will look to continue making an impact for the Purple and Gold. After seeing time on the mound last season, returning sophomores Michael Reese (Constantine, Mich./Constantine), Jack Powell (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Northern), Daniel Tomalak (Tecumseh, Mich./Clinton), and Tyler Hines (Cincinnati/Nortwest) will don the Purple and Gold again as they look to be integral members of the DC pitching staff. 

CATCHERS

The Yellow Jackets will rely on experience behind the plate once again. Junior Ben Bucklew (Archbold/Archbold) will look to fill valuable innings for DC, after featuring in 28 games during the 2018 campaign. The Archbold native was a strong performer on offense for the Yellow Jackets. Bucklew averaged .305 during the 2018 season while recording 29 hits, nine RBI's, 15 walks, and a team leading eight stolen bases. 

Seniors Mason Rapp (Fortville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) and Derek Angelone (Gibsonburg/Gobsonburg) and sophomore Zach Johnson (El Paso, Ill./Gridley) will add depth to the catching crew for the 2019 season. 

INFIELDERS 

The Yellow Jackets will fall on a veteran infield for guidance this season. Tyler Weaver (Defiance/Defiance) will look to continue putting in valuable outings at first base. The senior featured in 22 games during the 2018 season, with 18 starts. Weaver hit .283 for DC, while recording three doubles, and 11 RBI's. The senior's .430 on-base percentage was the second highest on the team. 

Jude Neary (Toledo/Cardinal Stritch Catholic) looks to return to his third base position for his junior season. The Toledo native started in 29 games for Coach Woodley last season, hitting .237 on the year. Neary tallied 13 RBI's while drawing a team-high 19 walks to bolster his on-base percentage to .368. 

Shortstop looks likely to be filled by Michael Gilliland (Napoleon/Napoleon). The senior started 26 games during the 2018 campaign, hitting .380 and finishing second on the team with 27 runs scored, earning him All-HCAC honors. 

After the graduation of 2018 All-HCAC player Glen Collier, second base looks to be a position in need of filling for Woodley. Tomalak also spent some time at second during the 2018 campaign and is a potential fill-in for the gap Collier leaves behind. 

OUTFIELDERS

The outfield will look familiar to Yellow Jacket fans as DC brings back a handful of players with experience.

Sophomore Nate Kaffenbarger (DeGraff/Indian Lake) will look to pick up where he left on in right field. The sophomore hit .316 and brought in 10 runs on his 36 hits during his freshman campaign. 

Tanner Stippich (Lima/Allen East) will likely find his place back in the outfield after playing in 33 games last season. The senior knocked in 25 hits and three home runs during his junior season. 

Lucas Thomeier (Wickliffe/Wickliffe) will return for his sophomore season and is likely to spend valuable time in the outfield. The Wickliffe native featurd in 23 games during the 2018 season, tallying 21 hits on 72 at-bats, while driving in seven RBI's and hitting .292 on the year. 

The outfield depth does not stop there, as Senior Grant Vickery (Bellevue/Bellevue) is likely to see time for Coach Woodley's Yellow Jackets. Garrett Sierra (Defiance/Defiance) spent time in numerous positions during the 2018 season, but is a viable option for the outfield. Junior Enders (Arcadia/Arcadia) and sophomores Nolan Kestner (Mason/Mason) as well as Tyler Hines will each look to find time on the field during the 2019 season. 

SCHEDULE

Defiance will begin the 2019 season with their yearly Spring Break trip to Fort Myers, Fla. The Yellow Jackets will kick start their busy week in the sunshine state with a double header against Elms on March 4th. The DC baseball team will take on Hiram, Rivier, and Augustana before wrapping up the week with a double-header against Alvernia on March 8th. 

The Purple and Gold will begin their home season with a double header HCAC contest against Anderson on March 30th. After a handful of conference battles, DC will break up the hectic HCAC season with a pair of non-conference games against Ohio Wesleyan and Calvin on April 9th and 10th respectively. 

Defiance will finish the home season with back-to-back HCAC contests as they host Hanover on April 27th, followed by a visit from Mount St. Joseph on April 30th. The Yellow Jackets conclude the regular season Friday, May 3rd as they travel to Franklin.

The 2019 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament is slated to begin May 9th and conclude May 12th.

The full Defiance College baseball schedule can be found by visiting www.defianceathletics.com

HCAC PRESEASON

The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference announced the 2019 Preseason Coaches Poll in early February. Defiance tallied 22 points in the voting, placing the Yellow Jackets in 10th. 

Franklin College was pegged to repeat as HCAC champs, picking up 96 points and seven first place votes. Anderson University finished second in the polling, finishing with 83 points and two first place votes. Rose-Hulman finished in a close third position with 82 points and one first place vote. 

Earlham and Manchester round out the top five, followed by Transylvania, Bluffton, Mount St. Joseph, Hanover, and Defiance. 

Place Team Points (First Place Votes)
1 Franklin 96 (7)
2 Anderson 83 (2)
3 Rose-Hulman 82 (1)
4 Earlham 62
5 Manchester 53
6 Transylvania 52
7 Bluffton 43
8 Mount St. Joseph 32
9 Hanover 25
10 Defiance 22