Highest Ranking Since Becoming NCAA Affiliated
HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Coker College baseball team is ranked No. 3 in the latest NCAA poll. It is the highest the team has ever been ranked by the NCAA. In 1994, when the school was NAIA affiliated, the baseball team was as high as No. 3.
The Cobras are 38-14 overall on the season. They won the Conference Carolinas tournament and the NCAA Southeast regional tournament to earn a berth in the National Finals of the 2013 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship. It is the first trip to this tournament in program history. Coker takes on the University of Tampa at 1 p.m. Sunday at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
"The number three ranking is a well-deserved result of what we have accomplished as a team," said head coach Dave Schmotzer. "This is just another step in our goal to win a national championship. I'm proud of our guys and their hard work to this point. We hope to keep this thing going in Cary."
Coker has been led by a host of individuals this season. Offensively, the Cobras are led by junior first baseman Fico Kondla, who sports a .423 average with three homers and a team-high 47 RBIs. Junior third baseman T.J. Giczkowski has been a steady force in the middle of the order, batting .364 with four triples, 29 RBIs and a team-leading 53 runs scored. Designated hitter Zach Loraine, a junior, is hitting .331 with three homers, 37 RBIs, 48 runs and 20 steals.
On the pitching side, senior left-hander Dan Meyer has been the team's ace. Meyer has an 8-3 mark with a 3.76 ERA. He has 86 strikeouts over a team-high 105 and 1-3 innings pitched this season. Meyer earned a pair of victories in the Southeast regional. He took down Armstrong Atlantic in the first game before defeating Georgia College with a complete-game performance in the championship game. Meyer was named tournament MVP for his efforts.
Senior righty Tyler Witzel has served as the No. 2 starter, and he boasts a 7-5 record with a 5.00 ERA and 42 strikeouts. Witzel turned in his best performance of the season against USC Aiken in the regional tournament. He tossed 6 2-3 innings and allowed just one run.
Junior Zach Loraine has been the team's closer all season. Loraine has a 5-2 record with a 2.40 ERA and 15 saves. His 15 saves are tied for best in Division II. In the regional tournament he was lights out, tossing a total of 5 1-3 innings of shutout baseball. He allowed three hits and struck out nine. Loraine earned the win against USC Aiken and a save against Mount Olive College. On offense he hit .421 with four RBIs, five runs and a stolen base.
In addition to the on-field success, several Cobras have earned postseason accolades. Kondla is currently a finalist for the Josh Willingham Award, an honor given to the most valuable player in Division II. The winner will be announced after the tournament in Cary is completed. In addition, Kondla was a first team all-conference selection by Conference Carolinas, and was the conference's player of the week three times. He was recently named second team all-region by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Loraine has collected several awards. He was named first team all-region by Daktronics, a second team all-region selection by the NCBWA and, most recently, a second team all-region pick by the American Baseball Coaches Association. He was also the NCBWA Southeast region pitcher of the week and conference pitcher of the week.
Meyer has been the Conference Carolinas pitcher of the week as well as the NCBWA Southeast region pitcher of the week. He was also a second team all-conference selection.
Witzel was the conference's pitcher of the week back in February, and was second team all-conference.
Junior right-handed pitcher Andrew Goot, who has an 8-0 record out of the bullpen, earned a first team all-conference nod as a reliever. He was also the conference pitcher of the week twice and NCBWA Southeast region pitcher of the week once.
The Cobras have been ranked in three different polls this season. Along with the NCAA poll, they've cracked the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Poll and College Baseball Lineup polls.
Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the "Best Colleges" in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.