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May 23, 2012- Madison, WI. As the collegiate baseball season winds down schools around the country are beginning to play for berths into the NCAA tournament. Several players who have signed with the Mallards for the upcoming season find themselves in the middle of conference title chases and dreams of contending for a national championship. Players that fans can expect to see this summer in Madison that are currently in ESPN’s projected NCAA tournament include: right-handed pitchers Josh Pierce (Kent State), Kurt Giller (Oral Roberts), Brandon Barker (Mercer) and Hobie McClain (New Mexico); left-handed pitchers Bobby Poyner (Florida) and (Daniel Gibson); catcher Taylor Gushue (Florida), infielders Jose Trevino (Oral Roberts) and Nicholas Howard (Virginia), and outfielder Derek Fisher (Virginia).

The Florida Gators are ranked 2nd in the nation by the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches Poll. A pairBobbyPoyner-use 
 of left-handed pitchers in freshmen Bobby Poyner and sophomore Daniel Gibson have been a potent combo out of the Florida bullpen all season long, and will be expected to contribute in a similar fashion to the Mallards this summer. Poyner did not allow a single run in six appearances against SEC opponents, while Gibson posted a 2.25 ERA in eight conference appearances. Freshmen Taylor Gushue has been steady as both a first baseman and designated hitter for the Gators all throughout his debut collegiate season.

This season Florida has become battle tested by fighting through one of the toughest conferences in the nation. Widely considered the top collegiate league in the nation, the SEC finished the regular season with six teams ranked in the Top 25. This past weekend the Gators wrapped up the regular season on the road against the Auburn Tigers. Florida was able to take two of three at Auburn, and end the regular season at 40-16. This upcoming weekend the conference gathers in Hover, Alabama for the SEC conference tournament. From there Gibson, Poyner, and Gushue will await their teams seeding in the NCAA tournament and play for a trip to the College World Series in Omaha. 

Elsewhere around the nation freshmen Nicholas Howard and Derek Fisher of the Virginia CavaliersHoward-Use
wrapped up their regular season this past weekend against Maryland. Fisher had four hits and two RBIs in the series for the Cavaliers in helping them take two of three on the road. Virginia will head into the ACC championship with a 36-16-1 record. The Cavaliers are ranked 19th in the country by the Coaches Poll and are the second seed in the upcoming round robin conference tournament. With a plethora of highly touted national talent Virginia is expected to make a deep run into the national title hunt. 

Redshirt-freshman Josh Pierce and the Kent State Golden Flashes finished their regular season last weekend with a sweep over the Akron Zips. Pierce made a relief appearance in a 15-2 win over Akron on Friday, giving up no runs in 0.2 innings of relief. In eight relief appearances in conference play this season Pierce compiled a 0.79 ERA and allowed batters to hit just .176 against him. The three wins completed a dominant run through the Mid-American Conference for the Golden Flashes. Carrying a conference record of 24-3, Kent State finished an impressive eight games ahead in the MAC East Division standings. With a 13 game win streak heading into their conference tournament, Kent State is one of the hottest teams in the country. The Golden Flashes begins postseason play against Buffalo as the number one seed in the MAC tournament.

Meanwhile junior Kurt Giller and freshmen Jose Trevino continue to contribute to an Oral Roberts squad that is coming on strong down the stretch. Trevino was just named the Summit League Player of the Week after a monster week at the plate and on defense. The freshmen hit .538 for the week with two home runs and five RBIs while playing error-free baseball on defense. The quality play helped the Golden Eagles win three of four against North Dakota State last weekend to wrap up the regular season. ORU finished with a record of 33-22 and won the Summit League with a 17-6 conference record. The team will head into the postseason as the number one seed in their conference, and will play Southern Utah in the first round.

Sophomore Brandon Barker and the Mercer Bears clinched a spot to their seventh consecutive trip to the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament with a weekend sweep over the University of South Carolina-Upstate. The Bear’s journey to the tournament was remarkable, starting 2-7 in conference play and then winning 13 of their last 14 games to qualify for the conference tournament and earn a chance for an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. Barker has been a big part of the team’s rise from the conference cellar, posting a 3.20 ERA in 11 starts and 10 relief appearances. Finishing the regular season at 37-19, Mercer will start postseason play with a rematch of last weekend’s series against USC-Upstate.

Junior Hobie McClain and New Mexico swept Air Force last weekend to clinch a share of their first Mountain West Conference title since 2000. McClain has been a big part of the revival of the New Mexico baseball program this season, only giving up six runs all season in his role as a reliever. The Lobos will start their postseason with conference tournament play in Las Vegas.

In the junior college ranks sophomore right-handed pitcher Danny Sullivan and the Madison College Wolfpack are in the midst of an incredible run to the Junior College World Series. The trip to the eight-team double-elimination playoff is the third straight trip for the Wolfpack. Sullivan has been a great addition to Madison College this year, carrying a 7-0 record into the World Series with a 3.33 ERA. The Wolfpack will open with the Community College of Rhode Island on Saturday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark in Edin, Oklahoma. 

The 2012 season is upon us! Single-game tickets are on-sale for all Mallards home games!

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The Mallards will host their season opener against the Battle Creek Bombers on May 30th at 7:05 pm at the “Duck Pond.” 7-Game Packs, season, and group tickets are on sale now!

The Madison Mallards are part of the 16-team Northwoods League. The Northwoods League has more teams, plays more games, and draws more fans than any other Summer Collegiate Baseball League in North America.

Published On: May 23rd, 2012