Franklin Picked to Finish Third by HCAC Coaches

Franklin Picked to Finish Third by HCAC Coaches

GREENWOOD, Ind. – The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) released its 2018 pre-season coaches' baseball poll on Wednesday (Jan. 31) afternoon. The Franklin College baseball team will enter the 2018 campaign as the third-ranked team in the league.

The Grizzlies picked up 79 points in the poll and garnered three first-place votes. Franklin is coming off a 21-17 season that saw the Grizzlies go 13-12 in HCAC play. Franklin returns seven players with at least 100 plate appearances a year ago, as well as three member of the starting rotation. Sam Claycamp, Jordan Clark, Nick Wright, Mitchell Caster and Jackson Freed were all named to the league's "Players to Watch" list.

Last year's leading hitting and HCAC First Team selection Claycamp is back to anchor the Franklin offense. Claycamp batted .347 with seven home runs, 17 doubles and 34 RBI last year while playing in all 38 games. The team's top run producer, sophomore Nick Wright, is also back after batting .310 with a team-high nine home runs and 41 RBI in his debut season.

Senior Frank Podkul (.282, 6 HR, 35 RBI), senior Jackson Freed (.328, 20 RBI, 12 2B), sophomore Alex Mis (.281, 2 HR, 19 RBI) and sophomore Jarrod Smith (.267, 2 HR, 18 RBI) are all back for another year, giving the Grizzlies a deep offense.

Clark returns as the ace of the team after a dominant sophomore campaign that saw him go 7-0 with a 2.82 earned run average in 70.1 innings of work. Clark was named First Team All-HCAC a year ago. Clark chipped in on offense with one home run, 17 RBI and 15 runs scored.

Also back in the rotation are a trio of seniors in Caster, Christian Sullivan and Aaron Leming. Caster went 4-5 last year with a 3.25 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 63.2 innings of work while making a team-high 11 starts. Leming went 1-2 in 16 appearances, making seven starts and finishing with 33 punch outs over 49.2 innings. Sullivan went 1-1 in six appearances, fanning 15 batters in 14 innings of work.

Defending conference champions Earlham were picked to repeat as HCAC champions. The Quakers received 93 points and six first place votes after going 21-6 in league play a season ago. The complete poll can be found below.

Franklin opens their season on Feb. 24, when they travel to Chillicothe, Ohio for three games against Penn St.-Behrend.

Place 

Team

Points (1st Place Votes)

2017 Record

2017 HCAC Record

1

Earlham

93 (6)

30-14

21-6

2

Manchester

81

22-21

18-9

3

Franklin

79 (3)

21-17

13-12

4

Rose-Hulman

68

18-24

16-11

5

Mt. St. Joseph 

67

24-20

16-11

6

Transylvania

36

13-24

8-16

7

Anderson

34 (1)

14-23

8-16

8

Bluffton

32

15-20

8-15

9

Defiance

31

14-25

11-15

10

Hanover

29

18-20

9-17