BRIDGEPORT — Notre Dame and the University of Charleston have been tabbed by the league coaches as the preseason favorites for the 2020 Mountain East Conference baseball season.
The Falcons were picked to finish first in the North with 65 points and 10 first-place votes. NDC went 28-28 last year and finished second in the division last year.
The Falcons made a run in the MEC Tournament advancing to the finals, but had to settle for a runner-up finish. Tyler Gault leads the pitching staff after going 8-4 last year with a 3.53 ERA, and is three wins shy of becoming the school’s all-time leader in that category.
Todd Marshall, a first team All-MEC reliever last year, is back after notching seven saves and pitching 42.1 innings last year.
Joseph Paskell leads the offense after hitting .348 with 32 RBI last year as the designated hitter.
Fairmont State was picked to finish second in the North with 54 points and had the two remaining first-place votes.
The Falcons smashed a school-record 51 home runs last year and their 25 wins were the second-most in a single season in school history.
Zach Musgrove returns after hitting .339 with 12 homers last year, and Will Brown is the team’s top returning starter after going 6-2 last year with a 3.49 ERA.
Urbana was slotted third in the poll with 37 points.
The Blue Knights return second team All-MEC outfielder Chase Carney (.371, 12 2B) and the MEC Freshman of the Year Tyler Dellerman (.306, 9 HR, 36 RBI).
Close behind the Blue Knights in the North Division was West Liberty with 35 points, followed by Frostburg State and Wheeling.
Charleston, the two-time defending South Division champs, are picked to take the division once again with 61 points (six first-place votes).
UC is coming off a historic 41-19 season last year and was one win away from the Division II College World Series.
The Golden Eagles will be under the direction of first-year head coach Robbie Britt.
UC will be led by outfielder Colby Johnson who hit .338 with 10 home runs and 15 RBI on his way to earning All-MEC first team honors.
Jordan Bailey also returns to provide a spark in the Golden Eagles lineup after hitting .319 last year and swiping 21 bases. Austin Henrich is the team’s top returning starter going 9-3 a season ago with a 3.74 and logging 91.1 innings.
UC narrowly edged out Concord in the poll as the Mountain Lions finished with 58 points and five first-place votes.
CU went 33-17 last year and was second in the South. Shortstop Anthony Stehlin is back in the lineup for Coach Kevin Garrett after hitting .368 with 13 doubles last year. Outfielders Ryan Fralin (.387) and Adam Linkous (.308) will also be key in scoring runs for Concord in 2020.
West Virginia State was picked third with 49 points and had one first-place vote.
The Yellow Jackets went 24-23 and missed out on the MEC Tournament a season ago by virtue of a tiebreaker. Andrew Stone, a former MEC Freshman of the Year, is back for his junior season after hitting .327 and scoring 42 times for the Yellow Jackets last year.
WVSU also returns Matthew Harrison, who in addition to hitting .336 with 33 RBI, also went 4-1 in relief.
West Virginia Wesleyan was picked fourth in the league with 33 points.
The Bobcats return one of the top hitters in the league in Eric Forbrick (.363).
Glenville State was tabbed fifth (29 points), and Davis & Elkins was sixth (16 points).
2020 MEC Preseason
1. Notre Dame — 65 (10)
2. Fairmont State — 54 (2)
3. Urbana — 37
4. West Liberty — 35
5. Frostburg State — 30
6. Wheeling —25
1. Charleston — 61 (6)
2. Concord — 58 (5)
3. W.Va. State — 49 (1)
4. W.Va. Wesleyan — 33
5. Glenville State — 29
6. Davis & Elkins —16