Written by Mason Ippel, Sports Information Student Assistant
Freeland, Mich. – The Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association released its 2020 baseball Preseason Coaches Poll today (Feb. 7) and the Alma College Scots are voted to finish tied for fourth with Albion College in the eight-member conference this season. Last year, Alma finished behind defending champion Adrian College as well as Hope College and Albion College. They have finished third in the conference tournament two years in a row. Six-time defending champion Adrian was the unanimous first-place pick.
"I think polls are fun but really we will find out where we stand once the MIAA starts in late March, said Head Coach Jason Crain. "Returning the majority of our contributors, I am excited to watch our guys build on last year's season and continue to set the bar higher. They have worked very hard since the end of last year to improve on what we accomplished. We are also very excited to add our newcomers from the '19 recruiting class to a group of guys that have one goal in mind, an MIAA Championship. Adrian has proven year after year recently that they are the team to beat and that is no different this year. It will be fun to compete and see where we stack up. I can't wait to get started."
Alma finished last season 19-24 with a 14-14 conference record. The Scots are a force to be reckoned with when playing at home. Due to weather, only 10 out of the 14 scheduled home games were played at Klenk Park but the team finished with an 8-2 record. They will look to improve upon the 5-16 road record.
In all, 22 players return from last year's team. At the plate, the Scots return multiple threats including two all-MIAA players in Jaret Koin (Sterling, Mich. / Standish-Sterling Central) and Pete Carravallah (Canton, Mich. / Plymouth / Adrian College). Koin had an impressive conference resume. The senior utility player was third in extra-base hits (15) and total bases (64), fourth in runs (31), doubles (10), batting average (.385), and slugging percentage (. 615), and fifth in hits (40). He also tied for second in home runs (4) with senior Logan Huff (Johannesburg, Mich. / Johannesburg-Lewiston). Huff also had 30 runs batted in, good for fifth in the conference. Carravallah is patient at the plate as he was fourth in walks with 18. He also had a 1.000 fielding percentage. Senior Max Trucks (Mt. Pleasant, Mich. / Mt. Pleasant / Davenport University) led the conference in putouts (210) while recording a fielding percentage of .995. As a team, the Scots lit up opposing pitchers by having the second-most home runs in the conference.
On the mound, Alma returns four of its five starters. Aaron Saenz (Sebewaing, Mich. / Unionville-Sebewaing Area) had a 5-1 record in conference on five starts and seven appearances and went the distance twice. The lefty also led the team in innings pitched (38.2) and ERA (3.26). Ty Sobczak (Petoskey, Mich. / Petoskey) will return as the team's go-to reliever. The sophomore appeared in 21 games last year and was fifth in the conference in saves. Carson Kempa (North Branch, Mich. / North Branch), Dylan Dzendzel (Royal Oak, Mich. / Royal Oak), and Trevor Wregglesworth (Onaway, Mich / Onaway) will all see significant time on the mound as well. Last year, they combined for 22 starts and 111.1 innings. Dzendzel struck out 44 batters in 40.2 innings.
The season begins Saturday (Feb. 8) at Louisiana College. Alma then has eight games in seven days in Orlando, FL at the RussMatt Tournament. The first game at Klenk Park is March 28 against Trine University. The Scots will also play a game at Comerica Park on April 6 against Ohio Northern University. The regular season concludes May 3 with senior day against Olivet College. First round of the MIAA tournament starts May 6.
MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Adrian - 7 points (7 first-place votes)
2. Hope - 13 points (1 first-place vote)
3. Kalamazoo - 23 points
T4. Albion - 26 points
T4. Alma - 26 points
6. Calvin - 38 points
7. Trine - 41 points
8. Olivet - 47 points