FOREST, VA-The Hampden-Sydney Tigers' baseball team will open its season this Saturday, February 1, at Averett, and was picked fifth in the 2014 ODAC Baseball Preseason Poll as voted on by the coaches. Bridgewater College took home eight first place votes, along with 98 total points, while being picked to win the league. Shenandoah picked up one first place vote towards 88 points, just three points ahead of Randolph-Macon in third place. The Yellow Jackets also received two first place votes.
Hampden-Sydney enters the 2014 season with 24 returning players from a 2013 team that went 23-17-1 overall and 13-7 in conference play while winning two games in the ODAC Tournament.
The Tigers return several major contributors from a season ago, headlined by All-Region first baseman Jeff Gray (Newport News, VA/Menchville). Last season, Gray led the Tigers in nearly every offensive statistical category while hitting .372 with 61 hits in 164 at bats. He also had 19 doubles, three homeruns, 39 runs and 30 RBI.
Along with Gray in the offense, head coach Jeff Kinne returns center fielder Andrew Tucker (Fincastle, VA/James River) and left fielder Christian Hamlett (Midlothian, VA/Cosby) who hit .344 and .316 last season, respectively, with a combined 27 doubles, 47 RBI, and 64 runs.
Sophomore second baseman John Lloyd (Glen Allen, VA/Deep Run) (.321 BA, 21 RBI, 17 R), senior outfielder Spencer Wiles (Belmont, NC/South Point) (.298 BA), and sophomore catcher Jack Elliott (Pittsburgh, PA/Upper St. Clair) (.276 BA, 13 RBI, 12 R) will all look to expand on their productive seasons last year.
Also providing a strong bat and a steady presence on the mound will be senior third baseman and pitcher Hunter Lewis (Newport News, VA/Menchville). At the plate last year, Lewis recorded 44 hits, 19 RBI and scored 24 runs while hitting .288. On the bump, he posted a 4-1 record in ten appearances –five starts – while compiling a 3.11 ERA, and 33 strikeouts to ten walks, in 37.2 innings.
Along with Lewis, the Tigers will depend on returning starters Teddy West (Lanexa, VA/Warhill) and Aaron Stidham (Roanoke, VA/William Byrd). West went 2-2 in 11 starts, while posting a 4.69 ERA, 30 strikeouts, and 19 walks in 55.2 innings. Stidham had a 4.36 ERA to go with a 3-2 record in 11 appearances and six starts. He also struck out 27 while walking 14. Billy Nixon (Sedley, VA/Southampton) will also carry much of the load on the mound after seeing 32 innings of action in 16 appearances with a 2.53 ERA last season.
The Tigers begin their season on the road this Saturday at Averett University. First pitch is set for 1:00 PM. Hampden-Sydney will open its home schedule next Saturday, February 8 with a double header against Marymount University. First pitch is set for 12:00 PM.
Below is the 2014 Baseball Preseason Poll
2014 ODAC BASEBALL PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes first place votes
1. Bridgewater (8) 98 pts
2. Shenandoah (1) 88 pts
3. Randolph-Macon (2) 85 pts
4. Lynchburg 65 pts
5. Hampden-Sydney 62 pts
6. Roanoke 49 pts
7. Guilford 46 pts
7. Washington & Lee 46 pts
9. Virginia Wesleyan 33 pts
10. Eastern Mennonite 23 pts
11. Emory & Henry 10 pts