FOREST, Va. – Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) baseball coaches picked Guilford College ninth in their annual preseason poll released Thursday. The Quakers earned 30 points in the 11-team ranking. Randolph-Macon College, the reigning ODAC champions, collected five first-place votes and topped the poll with 91 points. Shenandoah University placed second (89 points, 3 first-place votes), followed by Washington and Lee University (80 points, 3 first-place votes).
Guilford head coach Nick Black '02 returns six starters – including five fielders and one pitcher – among 18 letter winners from last year's 17-23 team (6-14 ODAC). Senior outfielder Rocco Wilcox looks to build off last season when he hit .351 with eight runs batted in (RBI) and a .426 on-base percentage. Along with Wilcox, the Quakers return four other seniors who also made strong contributions in 2016: Andrew Brann (.319 batting average, 19 RBI), Logan Jones (.250 average, 16 RBI), Joe Metts (.309 average, 21 RBI), and Eric Yost (.400 on base percentage).
Senior right-hander John Todd is the Quakers' top returning pitcher after compiling a team-best 2.66 earned run average (ERA) last year. He went 4-1 in 2016 with 46 strikeouts in 44 innings pitched. Senior southpaw Eric Yost (2-2, 4.89 ERA) also returns to the mound for the Quakers. Fellow veterans Darin Salter, Caleb Gaster and Chase Mitchell are also expected to contribute to Guilford's pitching staff.
The Quakers begin the 2017 season with non-conference games against Piedmont College this Friday (2/3) and Saturday (2/4). Guilford opens ODAC play March 4 at Lynchburg College and then returns home the following day to host the Hornets.
2016 ODAC BASEBALL PRESEASON POLL (#) denotes first-place votes
1. Randolph-Macon (5) 91, 2. Shenandoah (3) 89, 3. Washington and Lee (3) 80, 4. Virginia Wesleyan 79, 5. Bridgewater 59, 6. Roanoke 57, 7. Hampden-Sydney 55, 8. Eastern Mennonite 31, 9.Guilford 30, 10. Emory & Henry 18, 11. Lynchburg 16.