Franklin Chosen to Repeat as HCAC Champions by League's Coaches

Franklin Chosen to Repeat as HCAC Champions by League's Coaches

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Coming off the best season in program history with several returners back in the fold for 2019, the Franklin College baseball team has been picked to repeat as Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) champions by the league's 10 coaches.

Franklin went 39-5 in 2018, going 17-1 in league play to win the regular season championship with ease. The conference tournament saw the Grizzlies roll through three games without a loss, knocking off Manchester, Rose-Hulman and Anderson to claim their first league tournament championship since 2011. Reigning HCAC Coach of the Year Lance Marshall's team enters the season ranked #21 in the ABCA/D3Baseball poll and #22 in the Collegiate Baseball rankings.

The Grizzlies welcome back seven players from a lineup that mashed their way to all-conference accolades and a Division III-best .351 batting average. Leading the charge is the reigning HCAC Offensive MVP in junior outfielder Ryan Bixler, who became the fourth player in program history to earn the league's MVP award.

Also back in the fold for another year are 2018 First Team All-HCAC selections in DH Nick Wright, shortstop Sam Claycamp, first baseman Drew Naumovich, left fielder Jarrod Smith and catcher Alex Mis. Second baseman Brandt Pawley returns for his junior year following a selection to the league's second team last year. Former First Team All-HCAC pitcher Jordan Clark returns for his senior year and is expected to head up the starting rotation.

Franklin received 96 points in the pre-season rankings, collecting seven of a possible 10 first place votes. The entire pre-season poll can be found below.

The Grizzlies open the 2019 season on Saturday, Feb. 23, when they travel to Jacksonville, Ill. to take on Elmhurst and MacMurray.

Team (First Place Votes)

Points

1. Franklin (7)

96

2. Anderson (2)

83

3. Rose-Hulman (1)

82

4. Earlham

62

5. Manchester

53

6. Transylvania

52

7. Bluffton

43

8. Mount St. Joseph

32

9. Hanover

25

10. Defiance

22