2010 MAC Baseball Preview – West Division

January 22, 2010
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Can West Compete With East In 2010?

2009 Division Winners: Bowling Green won the East Division & Ball State won the West.

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2009 Champion: Kent State defeated Toledo 5-3 to win their 7th MAC championship in school history.

East Side Rules: The top 4 teams in the East all had conference and overall records above .500, while only Ball State accomplished that in the West.

2010 MAC West Division Preview

CLICK HERE to see our 2010 MAC East Division Preview with picks for overall conference champion, Player of the Year pick and Pitcher of the Year pick.

Ball State

2009 Season: (26-25, 14-10)

Mascot: Cardinals

Head Coach: Greg Beals

Location: Muncie, IN

Vitals: .323 BA, 72 HR, .404 OBP, .944 Fld. %…5.54 ERA, 9 SVs, 335 K, 196 BB,

Kolbrin Vitek

.294 Opp. BA

Big Returns: Ball State returns 6 of their 8 position starters from a year ago, including Preseason All-American Kolbrin Vitek (.389, 13 HR, 67 RBI) and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American So. 1B Ian Nielsen (.352, 9 HR, 53 RBI).

Big Losses: Even with all the talent back, Ball State still has huge holes to fill with the loss of 3rd team All-American OF Jeremy Hazelbaker (.429, 8 triples, 29 SB), and 2B Nate Fields (.308, 16 doubles, 32 SB).

Cardinal Challenges: Ball State boasts a strong non-conference schedule with games against Arkansas, UAB, Coastal Carolina, Michigan, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Indiana.

Central Michigan

2009 Season: (28-30, 12-15)

Mascot: Chippewas

Head Coach: Steve Jaksa

Location: Mt. Pleasant, MI

Vitals: .288 BA, 36 HR, .378 OBP, .944 Fld. %…5.61 ERA, 6 SVs, 466 K, 198 BB, .307 Opp. BA

Bring ‘em Back: CMU welcomes back their top six hitters from a season ago including Jr. OH Matt Faiman (.333, 75 H, 9 SB), Sr. OF Tyler Kipke (.333, 10 doubles, .425 OBP), and SR. OF Billy Anderson (.332, 4 HR, 19 SB).

Schedule Notes: The Chippewas begin their schedule a week later than most starting on the weekend of February 26th when they travel to Bakersfield, CA to play against California, Cal-Bakersfield, and St. Mary’s.  They open their home slate April 2nd when they welcome in MAC rival Ohio.

Eastern Michigan

2009 Season: (25-35, 13-14)

Mascot: Eagles

Head Coach: Jay Alexander

Location: Ypsilanti, MI

Vitals: .287 BA, 100 HR, .373 OBP, .957 Fld. %…6.61 ERA, 5 SVs, 366 K, 277 BB, .310 Opp. BA

Hit for Power: Eastern Michigan hit just .287 as a team with only 4 regulars finishing with an average above .300, but did have 6 guys hit at least 10 homers to finish with 100 homers as a team, 2nd best in the MAC.

MVP Replacement: The Eagles lose team MVP Kyle Rhoad who produced one of the best seasons in school history hitting for a team-high .349 with 12 HR and 34 RBI.  Rhoad led the MAC and set a single-season school record by swiping 32 bases in 35 attempts.

Big 10 Dominance: EMU played four Big 10 teams (Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Ohio State) in 2009 beating all of them at least once.

Northern Illinois

2009 Season: (19-34, 10-16)

Mascot: Huskies

Head Coach: Ed Mathey

Location: DeKalb, IL

Vitals: .288 BA, 44 HR, .378 OBP, .952 Fld. %…7.29 ERA, 7 SVs, 314 K, 262 BB, .324 Opp. BA

Jordin Hood

Key Returners:  Northern Illinois brings back their top hitter and top two pitchers from a year ago.  Sr. Jordin Hood (.382, 10 HR, .628 Slg%) leads the offense, while Sr. LHP Chuck Lukanen (7-6, 5.65 ERA, 1 CG) and Jr. LHP Tom Zelasko (2-4, 3.26 ERA, 4 SVs) head up the staff.

Feet to the Fire: The Huskies begin the season February 19th with a four-game series against Arizona State in Tempe.

Future is Now: The incoming freshman class with 11 signees in the largest class signed by head coach Ed Mathey in his 7 years at NIU.

Toledo

2009 Season: (24-30, 14-12)

Mascot: Rockets

Head Coach: Cory Mee

Location: Toledo, OH

Vitals: .296 BA, 51 HR, .358 OBP, .962 Fld. %…7.02 ERA, 11 SVs, 339 K, 201 BB, .301 Opp. BA

Breakthrough Year: Three Toledo players (P Justin Collop, P Mike Hamann, P Jeff Cinadr) were selected in the 2009 MLB draft tying a single-season record for the Rockets.  Hamann was picked out of high school, but will join UT for 2010 instead of playing professionally.  Overall, Toledo returns 25 of 30 letterwinners, 8 of 9 position starters, and 11 of the 14 pitchers from their 2009 squad.

Who’s Back: Among those returning are Jr. Chris Dudics (.386, 59 H, 8 doubles) and Jr. INF Jared Hoying (.293, 11 HR, 50 RBI).

Western Michigan

2009 Season: (14-35, 9-18)

Mascot: Broncos

Head Coach: Randy Ford

Location: Kalamazoo, MI

Vitals: .278 BA, 58 HR, .348 OBP, .954 Fld. %…7.30 ERA, 8 SVs, 340 K, 193 BB, .324 Opp. BA

Challenge Accepted: The Broncos have several tough road tests on this years schedule with road contests against Dallas Baptist, Oral Roberts, Notre Dame and Illinois-Chicago.

Offensive Offense: WMU hit only .278 as a team last year with just 4 players hitting over .300.  Pedro Dager led the way with a .360 BA and 13 doubles, but is now gone.  The three other top hitters from 2009 are back however.  Leading this year’s offense is Chris Lewis (.318, 68 H, 7 HR), Kyle Galbraith (.304, 13 HR, 35 RBI), and Jamie Simpson (.333, 7 HR, .620 Slg. %).

2010 MAC West Predictions

MAC West Winner: Ball State

Top MAC West Player: Kolbrin Vitek—Ball State

Top MAC West Pitcher: Trent Howard—Central Michigan

2010 Overall MAC Predictions

MAC Champion: Bowling Green

Player of the Year: Tyler Elkins—Bowling Green

Pitcher of the Year: Brennan Smith—Bowling Green

(By Collegebaseball360.com contributor Shawn Lewallen)

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