Rosemont, Ill. – Maryland was voted the preseason favorite to claim the 2017 Big Ten Baseball Championship as selected by the conference coaches and announced on Wednesday. The coaches voted on the top six teams and also selected three students from their own squads to a Preseason Honors list. The Terrapins were followed in the preseason poll by Michigan in second place, No. 3 Nebraska, Indiana in fourth place, No. 5 Michigan State and Iowa and Minnesota tied for sixth place.
The Terrapins return sophomore outfielder Marty Costes, who saw action in 54 games and was named to the Preseason Honors list. Costes, a returning All-Freshman selection, hit .263 on the year, knocking in a team-leading 37 RBI. Also representing Maryland on the Preseason Honors list are sophomore infielder Nick Dunn, who hit a team-leading .300 last season, and infielder Kevin Smith, who started all 57 games for the Terrapins a year ago.
Michigan finished 2016 with a 36-21 overall record. Junior infielder Jake Bivens, a third-team All-Big Ten selection in 2016, hit .356 a year ago, scoring 53 runs and adding 26 RBI. Junior starting pitcher Oliver Jaskie started 14 games for the Wolverines, posting a 3.19 ERA and a 7-3 record. Drew Lugbauer, a junior infielder for the Wolverines, contributed 47 RBI and scored 39 runs.
The Cornhuskers finished second in the Big Ten a year ago, posted a 37-22 overall record and are coming off of their 14th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Nebraska returns sophomore relief pitcher Chad Luensmann, who was the 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2016. Luensmann tallied 13 saves with a 1.18 ERA. Junior starting pitcher Jake Meyers also returns and posted a 6-1 record for the Cornhuskers to go along with a 1.42 ERA. Junior outfielder Scott Schreiber hit .325 last season to earn first-team All-Big Ten recognition.
Indiana accumulated a 32-24 overall record a year ago and tied for third in Big Ten play. Among the Hoosiers’ preseason honorees are third-team All-Big Ten selection Craig Dedelow, an outfielder who batted .302 with 70 hits last season, Luke Miller, a unanimous All-Freshman selection who hit .284 a year ago, and Logan Sowers, who tallied 44 hits and 24 RBI.
Michigan State posted a 36-20 record last season. The Spartans’ preseason honorees include catcher Matt Byars, outfielder Brandon Hughes and utility player Alex Troop. Byars hit .284 a season ago, tallying 58 hits and 26 RBI. Hughes appeared in 55 games for the Spartans, hitting .303 while posting 31 RBI. Alex Troop played in 12 games in the field hitting .372 scoring 11 runs and 13 RBI and played four games on the mound, producing a 3-0 record and a 1.64 ERA.
The Hawkeyes made a run to the Big Ten Tournament Championship game last season, posting a 30-26 overall record. Among Iowa’s preseason honorees are starting pitcher Nick Gallagher, an All-Tournament selection who posted and 8-3 record and a 2.57 ERA in 2016, infielder Mason McCoy, also an All-Big Ten Tournament selection who hit .291 on the year with 65 hits and 34 RBI, and outfielder Robert Neustrom, who hit .307 with 47 hits and 21 RBI.
The Golden Gophers return as the defending Big Ten Champion. Minnesota posted a 36-21 record last year and are led into 2017 by preseason honorees infielder Micah Coffey, starting pitcher Lucas Gilbreath and infielder Terrin Vavra. Coffey, a second-team All-Big Ten honoree, appeared in 56 games for the Gophers, hitting .333 with 70 hits and 42 RBI. Gilbreath appeared in 16 games on the mound, posting a 3-2 record and a 1.36 ERA. Vavra appeared in 32 games in 2016, hitting .358 while adding 43 hits and 20 RBI.
The 2017 Big Ten baseball season is set to begin on Friday, Feb. 17. The preseason poll, featuring the top six teams, and the complete Players to Watch list can be found below.
2017 BIG TEN BASEBALL PRESEASON POLL (top six teams)
5. Michigan State
2017 BIG TEN BASEBALL PRESEASON HONORS LIST
Trent Hammond, INF, Sr., Illinois
Pat McInerney, INF, Sr., Illinois
Doran Turchin, OF, So., Illinois
Craig Dedelow, OF., Sr., Indiana
Luke Miller, So., INF, Indiana
Logan Sowers, OF, Jr., Indiana
Nick Gallagher, SP, Jr., Iowa
Mason McCoy, INF, Sr., Iowa
Robert Neustrom, OF, So., Iowa
Marty Costes, OF, So., Maryland
Nick Dunn, INF, So., Maryland
Kevin Smith, INF, Jr., Maryland
Jake Bivens, INF, Jr., Michigan
Oliver Jaskie, SP, Jr., Michigan
Drew Lugbauer, INF, Jr., Michigan
Matt Byars, C, Sr., Michigan State
Brandon Hughes, OF, Jr., Michigan State
Alex Troop, UTIL, So., Michigan State
Micah Coffey, INF, Jr., Minnesota
Lucas Gilbreath, SP, Jr., Minnesota
Terrin Vavra, INF, So., Minnesota
Chad Luensmann, RP, So., Nebraska
Jake Meyers, UTIL, Jr., Nebraska
Scott Schreiber, OF, Jr., Nebraska
Tommy Bordignon, SP, Jr., Northwestern
Matt Hopfner, INF/OF, Sr., Northwestern
Joe Schindler, SP, Sr., Northwestern
Seth Kinker, RP, Jr., Ohio State
Yianni Pavlopoulos, SP/RP, Jr., Ohio State
Jalen Washington, INF, Sr., Ohio State
Sal Biasi, SP, Jr., Penn State
Willie Burger, IF, So., Penn State
Nick Riotto, OF, Sr., Penn State
Tanner Andrews, SP, Jr., Purdue
Nick Dalesandro, C, So., Purdue
Jacson McGowan, UTIL, So., Purdue
Jawuan Harris, OF, So., Rutgers
John O’Reilly, SP, Jr., Rutgers
Kevin Welsh, INF, Fr., Rutgers