CLEVELAND, Ohio – 2012 College World Series participant Kent State was picked to repeat as MAC East Division & Tournament champions in 2013, the Mid-American Conference announced on Tuesday. Central Michigan, last year’s MAC Tournament runner-up, was picked to win the West Division. The Flashes garnered nine votes to win the MAC Tournament, while Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Toledo each garnered one vote. The preseason poll was voted on by the league’s 12 Head Coaches.
The Golden Flashes (47-20) welcome back 21 letterwinners from last year’s team that finished the season ranked No. 6 in the nation. Last year’s historic season for Kent State included multiple milestones, including the program’s first-ever appearance in the CWS after defeating Oregon to win the Eugene Super Regional. KSU was also the first Mid-American Conference team to advance to the CWS in 36 years. Furthermore, the Golden Flashes also set a team record for wins (47), which included a 21-game winning streak on the way to advancing out of the Regional round for the first time in program history.
The Flashes will try to climb the rankings this year bolstered by pre-season All-Americans Tyler Skulina and George Roberts. In pre-season releases, Skulina was named All-Conference Pitcher of the Year by College Sports Madness, the No. 78 player in the country by College Baseball Daily and made the pre-season Second Team for both NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Roberts was named pre-season Position Player of the Year by College Sports Madness and made the pre-season First Team for Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
Kent State was followed by Miami in the East while Bowling Green was selected to finish third. Ohio was selected to finish in fourth place, while Akron was tabbed to place fifth. Buffalo rounded out this year’s East Division predictions.
Central Michigan will welcome back 15 letterwinners to a team that posted an overall record of 34-29 (17-10 MAC) last season. The Chippewas won 16 of their last 20 games, including a season-long 10 straight from April 29th to May 13th. The 30-win campaign marked the third-straight for the Maroon and Gold and the seventh in 10 years under head coach Steve Jaksa. The Chippewas will have to replace 11 players from the 2012 squad as nine seniors departed and two players – Dietrich Enns and Jordan Dean - were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. Dean (15th round - Detroit Tigers) and Enns (19th round - New York Yankees) joined Zach Cooper (15th round - Philadelphia Phillies), Jon Weaver (21st round - Tampa Bay Rays) and senior Ryan Longstreth (40th round - Detroit Tigers) to make up the most student-athletes selected in one draft in program history.
Toledo was picked to finish second in the West Division and was followed by Eastern Michigan in third place. Western Michigan, Ball State and Northern Illinois rounded out the remaining sports in the West.
The MAC baseball season begins on Friday, February 15th, while conference play starts up Friday, March 22nd. The season will culminate with the MAC Baseball Tournament, which takes place May 23-26 at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio.
MAC East Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Kent State (72 points)
2. Miami (58)
3. Bowling Green (44)
4. Ohio (34)
5. Akron (25)
6. Buffalo (19)
West Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Central Michigan (65 points)
2. Toledo (60)
3. Eastern Michigan (54)
4. Western Michigan (36)
5. Ball State (23)
6. Northern Illinois (15)
Tournament Champion: Kent State (9 votes), Central Michigan (1), Eastern Michigan (1), Toledo (1)