To get caught up on our college baseball countdown, click on over to our index page here.
The Wright State Raiders have become one of the most fun mid-major programs to follow on a year-to-year basis.
First of all, they’ve been incredibly successful, and that’s really nothing new. They emerged as a power in the Horizon League under former head coach Rob Cooper (now the head man at Penn State), and with Greg Lovelady, Cooper’s successor, at the helm, that has only continued.
The program has gone a combined 46-12 in Horizon League play under Lovelady in the last two seasons, and in going 43-16 overall last season, the Raiders put up their highest win total as a team since 1988, when they went 45-12 in their second year as a Division I independent. They weren’t content to just get into the postseason last year, either. Once in the Champaign regional, they did some damage, eliminating both Ohio and Notre Dame before losing in the regional final to host Illinois.
What makes them more fun, though, is their aggressive non-conference scheduling during the regular season and their competitiveness in those games against larger programs.
Take last year for example. During the second weekend of the season, the Raiders took a game off of Mississippi on the road (albeit in weather that you would have associated more with the state of Ohio than the state of Mississippi), and lost another by just one run.
The very next weekend, WSU again claimed a road win, this time against Miami, and in each of the two losses in that series, they held leads going into the bottom of the ninth. Comebacks like those are part of what made Miami a great team last season, but it’s unbelievable how close that was to being a Wright State sweep on the road of a Miami team that would end up in the College World Series.
In 2016, Lovelady’s Raiders will have more opportunities to wreak havoc on the road. Two of their first three weekend series of the season are against teams with postseason aspirations. On the second weekend of the season, they play a three-game set on the road against North Carolina State and then follow that up with a road series at Georgia the very next weekend.
They’ll certainly have plenty of pieces in place to pull such upsets. Key offensive pieces Mitch Roman (.339, 41 RBI), Sean Murphy (.329, 4 HR, 36 RBI), Matt Morrow (.309/.434/.416), Ryan Fucci (.288, 15 HR, 49 RBI), and Gabe Snyder (.273, 6 HR, 48 RBI) return to lead what should be a powerful attack.
On the mound, there is plenty of depth to go around as well, with Jesse Scholtens (7-4, 3.08), Jeremy Randolph (7-0, 2.22), E.J. Trapino (2.55, 37 apps.), Logan Blair (2.58, 29 apps.), Jack Van Horn (3.06, 3 SV), and Trevor Swaney (4-3, 4.81) all back.
Last year’s WSU team came incredibly close to pulling off huge upsets in non-conference play, but don’t be surprised if the 2016 team takes it a step further and finishes what they started.