2018 Season Preview
The Cavaliers are coming off a 54-11-1 season that saw them win the Region IV Championship and the NJCAA National Championship in Enid, Okla.
“What a great experience and accomplishment last season for the players and the program,” said Head Coach Todd Post. “Along with two sophomore transfers and 17 freshmen, we have 10 players back from the National Championship team that we will build around to compete for another Region IV title.”
Leading the way offensively is returning 1st team All Region and World Series All-Tournament selection CF Bryce Butler (.404 BA, 6 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 48 RBI); RF Hayden Stoewer (.328 BA, 14 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 60 RBI); World Series All-Tournament selection 1B Dylan Dodd (.304, 6 2B, 4 3B, 35 RBI); INF Colin BeDell (.272 BA, 9 2B, 3 3B, 39 RBI); and sophomore transfers Anthony Cocco and Tanner Regez, who are expected to contribute right away. Freshman OF Dylan Post and INF Jake Campbell, Alex Hoss, Cristian Burciaga, Wade Rankin, and Tobey Rigsby are also key players who will impact our offense.
“We feel like we will be able to score runs in a lot of different ways,” says Coach Post. “We have some thunder in the line-up and overall good team speed.”
Defensively, the Cavaliers are strong up the middle with Freshman C Jett McGowan, MIF Jake Campbell, Anthony Cocco, and Bryce Butler patrolling CF. Sophomore 3B Colin BeDell and 1B Dylan Dodd are also solid defensively on the corners. We have five outfielders who can all cover ground and contribute offensively.
The pitching staff returns three key starters from last year: Colton Carr (9-3 W-L, 70.2 IP), Ben Clevenger (6-1 W-L, 48.1 IP), Dylan Dodd (5-2 W-L, 47.1 IP). Three relievers also are returning: World Series All-Tournament selection Waylon Richardson (0.30 ERA, 2-0 W-L, 9 S, 27 App, 30 IP, 17 H, 39 K, 8 BB), Brennan Kelly (1.61 ERA, 7-1 W-L, 2 S, 31 App, 50.1 IP, 51 K, 15 BB) and Cooper Hake (11 App, 11.2 IP, 15 K, 11 BB). Kelly will transition into the starting rotation for the spring 2018 season. Freshman Will Wentz, Tyler Guertin, Justin Mazur, Nick Crowe are all competing for the last two spots in the starting rotation. Freshmen Leighton Myers, Jake Everaert, Donnie Craft, and Nick Barnes are competing for innings out of the bullpen. The Cavaliers will look to a Freshman LHP Josh Harris to close out games. The pitching staff will be handled by freshmen catchers Jett McGowan and Parker Walker.
“We have good depth in our pitching staff and it will be important to get them opportunities to see who emerges as the season moves on,” says Coach Post. “We will go as far as our pitching staff takes us in the postseason. Our bullpen will play a huge role in our team’s overall success. Our goal every season is to win 40 games and compete for a Region IV championship.”
For the first time in program history, the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association has ranked the Cavaliers No. 1 Division II going into the season.
“It is very exciting to see your name on the top spot in the polls, but all it really means is we have a giant target on our back. We just need to be focused on playing consistent baseball,” Coach Post states.
“Being preseason No. 1 is great, but now it is time to perform on the field,” says KCC Assistant Coach Bryce Shafer.
The early season schedule for the Cavaliers is going to be challenging. The team leads off with John A. Logan (NJCAA DI, 2017 W-L 40-13) on the way to Myrtle Beach for the spring trip. Early on, there will be a rematch of the 2017 NJCAA Division II National Championship game on Friday March 9 when the Cavaliers meet Mercer Community College.
2018 NJCAA Div. 2 Pre-Season Poll
Kankakee (Ill.) No. 1 In 2018
NJCAA Div. II Pre-Season Poll
1. Kankakee (Ill.)
2. Jones County (Miss.)
3. Mercer County (N.J.)
4. LSU-Eunice (La.)
5. Parkland (Ill.)
6. Pitt (N.C.)
7. Murray St. (Okla.)
8. Phoenix (Ariz.)
9. Lansing (Mich.)
10. Sinclair (Ohio)
11. Kellogg (Mich.)
12. Mesa (Ariz.)
13. Western Oklahoma (Okla.)
14. Madison (Wis.)
15. Heartland (Ill.)
16. North Iowa Area (Iowa)
17. East Central (Miss.)
18. UConn-Avery Point (Conn.)
19. Southeast (Neb.)
20. McHenry County (Ill.)
Source: NJCAA Baseball Coaches Assn.