INDIANAPOLIS - The Great Midwest Athletic Conference 2019 Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll presented by Under Armour was released today. The Lake Erie College Storm was ranked 11 out of the 13 G-MAC teams, receiving 41 points in the voting. Ohio Dominican was picked first getting 136 points and seven first-place votes. Additionally Kentucky Wesleyan (130 points) and Hillsdale (120 points) received first-place votes as well.
Last season the Storm had an overall record of 17-27-1 with a G-MAC record of 14-13. In 45 games, they had a team batting average of .275, OBP of .361, and a slugging percentage of .384. Offensively, the Storm will miss graduated Sr. Wes Birchmeier, who batted .311, with an OBP of nearly .400 and a .528 slugging percentage, and drove in 32 runs while additionally scoring 31 runs himself. Another senior will surely be missed for the Storm due to his presence on the mound. Michael Stryffeler started nine games for Lake Erie last year, and averaged 11.09 strikeouts per nine innings with 70 strikeouts total. Both Birchmeier and Stryffeler were named to All-Conference teams in 2018.
Returning for the Storm in the 2019 season are seniors Dave Lemasters, Rees Rua, Nigel Willams, and sophomore Trace Peterson. Lemasters is coming off a stellar 2018 season as the ace of the Storm pitching staff in which he started 11 games, averaged 10.80 strikeouts per nine innings, struck out 72 batters total, and had a season ERA of 3.30. Lemasters was rewarded with a Second Team All-Conference award. Rua, who had a slugging percentage of .404, and Williams, who had an OBP of .350, add senior leadership and productivity to a squad loaded with freshman and sophomore talent.
Sophomore Trace Peterson looks to build upon his impressive freshman season. The outfielder was an offensive force for the Storm, appearing in 41 games, batting .327, with an OBP of .384, and a slugging percentage of .545. He drove in 29 RBIs, scored 38 runs, with 9 home runs.
The Storm starts the 2019 season off with a three game series in February that will take place in St. Charles, Mo. against the defending Division II National Champions, Augustana (neutral site), and Lindenwood University.