St. Louis, Mo., Dec. 31, 2016 – The Washington University in St. Louis baseball team is ranked No. 12 in the Collegiate Baseball Division III 2017 Preseason Poll and No. 17 in the D3baseball.com Preseason Poll, as announced by the organizations.
The No. 12 ranking is the highest the Bears baseball program has ranked in any regular or preseason poll since 2007.
"We are proud to be ranked in the top 15 this preseason – it is one of many steppingstones in the reconstruction of our program, and a sign that WashU Baseball is gaining respect across the country," second year head coach Pat Bloom said. "However, we also realize that the true measure of our abilities will occur between the lines, and that the high ranking will bring out the very best from our opponents. We are looking forward to the challenges that will come our way this spring."
During the 2016 season at WashU, coach Bloom guided the Bears to their second most victories in program history (33) while WashU also won multiple games during the NCAA Tournament for the first time.
WashU returns seven players with 19 or more games of starting experience, including the University Athletic Association (UAA) Co-Players of the Year second baseman Ben Browdy and shortstop Austin Darmawan. Both seniors set multiple records for the Bears last season. Browdy's single season total of 79 runs batted in helped lead the way to WashU's first ever All-America honors for an infielder. Browdy earned Third Team D3baseball.com AA honors. Darmawan set two marks in the WashU single season record books with 90 hits and 62 runs scored last year.
Darmawan (1st) and Browdy (2nd) were also named to the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-Region team. The double-play duo was joined by pitcher Brad Margolin. Margolin, entering his senior season, finished last year with an impressive 8-1 record while sporting a 2.74 ERA in addition to 73 strikeouts to lead the Bears pitching staff.
Senior Christian Santos also returns after being selected First Team all-UAA, hitting .379 with 15 doubles and 47 RBI. Bill Heisler (3-2, 2.63 ERA) and Scott Nelson (7-6, 3.94 ERA) are also coming back for their senior campaigns with starting experience.
WashU opens the 2017 season on Saturday, Feb. 25 against North Park in Birmingham, Ala. at 11 a.m. (CT). The Bears follow the morning game with an afternoon matchup against the host No. 5 Birmingham Southern at 1:30 p.m. (CT).
All together WashU faces four teams in the top-40 of the preseason poll, not including three other teams in the receiving votes section. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.