By: Ryan Hill — Public Relations
Madison, WI — May 22, 2013. The college baseball postseason is either already underway or right around the corner, and several players that have signed with the Mallards for the upcoming season have made a big impact on teams around the country that are vying for conference or even national titles. Players that fans can expect to see this summer at the “Duck Pond” that have the ability to or have already made deep playoff runs include: Taylore Cherry and Reilly Hovis (North Carolina), Joe McCarthy and John LaPrise (Virginia), Cody Peterson and Ryan McShane (Madison College), Kevin Duchene and Jason Goldstein (Illinois), Michael Handel (Minnesota), Sam Koenig and Luke Meeteer (UW-Milwaukee), and Hunter May (UNC-Charlotte).
The North Carolina Tar Heels are currently ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Baseball RPI and No. 5 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, and two freshman Mallards have proven to be valuable members of their dominant pitching staff. Hovis, a 6’3,” 195-pound native of Gastonia, North Carolina, is 2-0 with a 2.67 ERA in 10 relief appearances and four starts for the Tar Heels. He has held opposing hitters to just a .172 batting average over his 27 innings on the mound. Hovis has shown that he can compete with the country’s best, as the Tar Heels currently rank eighth in the nation in ERA with a mark of 2.62 and the team’s three main starters all have sub-3.25 ERAs.
Cherry, a 6’8,” 270-pound native of Dayton, Ohio, has been used sparingly for the Tar Heels after a couple of rough early outings, but pitched 3.1 innings over five appearances and allowed five earned runs.
The Tar Heels (48-8 overall, 27-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) won the regular season ACC title and received the No. 1 seed for the ACC Tournament. This season marks the first time they received the the No. 1 seed since 1990 and last won the title in 2007. Additionally, the ACC currently has five teams ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Tar Heels play No. 8 seed Miami Thursday at 3 p.m.
The Virginia Cavaliers, who received the No. 3 seed in the ACC Tournament, are ranked No. 3 in the NCAA Baseball RPI and No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and have been anchored by freshman Mallards outfielder Joe McCarthy. McCarthy, a 6’3,” 225-pound native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, hit .333 with three home runs and 47 RBIs. His 10 stolen bases and 65 hits both ranked second on the team while his .333 averaged ranked third. LaPrise, a 6’3,” 175-pound native of Exton, Pennsylvania, hit .182 in 33 at-bats and knocked in five runs.
The Cavaliers (45-9 overall 22-8 ACC) also find themselves in a very comfortable position heading into postseason play. They already have a lock on hosting an NCAA regional and will most likely play their best-of-three super regional at their home field if they advance past the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend.
Madison College is headed to the 2013 National Junior College Athletic Association Division II World Series for the fourth straight year and the Mallards will be getting a pair of players from the team. The Wolfpack received the No. 1 seed in the NJCAA Region IV Tournament and scored two runs in the eighth inning to defeat No. 2 Kankakee Community College (Illinois) 3-1 on Sunday to clinch the World Series berth.
Ryan McShane, a Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin native and the Wolfpack’s leadoff hitter, went 1-for-5 in the contest. Cody Peterson, who is from Burlington, Wisconsin and is on a temporary contract with the Mallards this summer, recorded the save by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning to clinch the berth. Peterson finished the regular season with a 4-4 record with a 1.99 ERA while McShane finished with a .327 batting average and 20 RBIs.
Big Ten Freshman of the Year Kevin Duchene of Illinois (33-16 overall, 14-10 Big Ten) will also be joining the Mallards for the 2013 season. Duchene emerged as the ace of the Fighting Illini early on and finished the regular season with an 8-1 record in 16 appearances—10 starts— and had an ERA of 2.67. He allowed two runs on six hits over six innings against Minnesota on May 16 to tie Illinois’ record for most wins by a freshman.
Teammate and catcher Jason Goldstein will also be following Duchene to Madison this summer after his freshman year with the Illini. The 6’0,” 190-pound native of Highland Park, Illinois appeared in 39 games and started in 38 while hitting .246 with 11 RBIs. He also led the Big Ten in runners caught stealing in conference play with 11 and was the first true freshman to start at catcher for the Illini since 1992. Illinois secured a No. 5 seed and will play fourth-seeded Minnesota Wednesday at 12:05 pm.
Minnesota’s Michael Handel—who played for the Mallards in 2011 and will be returning this summer—could be squaring off against Duchene again this week in the Big Ten tournament. He went 0-for-2 against Duchene on May 16 in Minneapolis in their 6-2 loss to the Illini. Handel emerged as the Gophers shortstop and hit .254 with three home runs and 19 RBIs during the regular season. He also tied for the team lead with 27 runs scored. The Gophers finished the regular season with a 30-20 overall record with a 13-8 mark in the Big Ten.
UW-Milwaukee is also heading into the postseason with high hopes, as the squad—which includes future Mallards players Luke Meeteer and Sam Koenig—won the Horizon League regular season title and have the top seed in the 2013 Horizon League Tournament. The Panthers (28-19 overall, 14-7 Horizon) will face either No. 4 seed Wright State or No. 5 seed Youngstown State Thursday at 2 pm.
Meeteer, a 5’11,” 185-pound Middleton, Wisconsin native, was named to the Horizon League preseason all-conference team prior to the 2013 season and finished second in the conference in stolen bases with 16. He hit .277 with two home runs and 25 RBIs. Sam Koenig, who is on a temporary contract with the Mallards for 2013, hit .285 with two home runs, 24 RBIs and five stolen bases for the Panthers during the 2013 regular season.
The Mallards will be getting another highly consistent reliever this summer in UNC-Charlotte’s Hunter May, who tied for the Atlantic 10 lead in wins with eight and ranked second in the number of appearances with 28. He finished with an ERA of 3.15 and a record of 8-1. The 49ers split the A-10 regular season title with Saint Louis and Rhode Island and received the No. 2 seed in the A-10 Tournament. They play Richmond at 1:30 pm on Wednesday.
The Mallards will host their season opener against the Eau Claire Express on May 29th at 7:05 pm at the “Duck Pond.” Single-game 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. In 2013, the Northwoods League will celebrate its 20th season.