The Wayne State baseball team will begin its quest towards a GLIAC title when their season begins on Feb. 25 at the Russmatt Invitational in Florida.
Last season, the Warriors posted the ninth 30-win season in program history, as they won 34 games, with three of those wins coming in the NCAA Tournament before they were eliminated by Quincy University.
WSU was voted the preseason favorite in the GLIAC Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll.
While teams like Northwood, GVSU, and Ashland pose the biggest threat to Wayne State, head coach Ryan Kelley considers every team in the league a threat.
"[Regardless of] whoever we're competing against in-conference, every pitch [of] every game is important for us, and we need to be able to do well and respond," said Kelley.
This season, the Warriors return ten starters from last year's team. WSU's offense will be anchored by seniors Brad Baldwin, Ryan Mergener, and junior catcher Justin Kelley. Baldwin drove in 41 runs last year, while Mergener had a .305 batting average. Kelley led the team with twelve home runs.
Senior Jared Tobey and juniors Addison Pawelek and Tyler Waldrop will lead the starting rotation, while a potential strength for the Warriors could be in the bullpen, as seniors Taylor Horn and Nolan Dill, along with sophomore Josh Nelson, will look to form a strong trio to end games.
While WSU has qualified for the GLIAC Tournament for ten straight seasons and won games in the NCAA Tournament recently, the last GLIAC title for Wayne State came in 2010. Kelley said it would be great to add a conference title to the Warriors recent success on the field.
"It would mean a lot," Kelley said. "There's a lot of expectations in our athletic department, and we want to meet those expectations and make the community proud."
The 2018 GLIAC Tournament will take place May 10-13 at the newly constructed Detroit PAL Field. Kelley said having the opportunity to participate in one of the first events at the new site is exciting.
"It's been a significant corner in the city of Detroit, and for us to have the postseason tournament there will be a special thing, especially in our own city."
After passing Rodger George as the baseball program's all-time leader in wins last year, Kelley enters this season 20 wins away from 300. Kelley said that those wins are a result of a lot of people doing well in key situations.
"Collectively a lot of people have helped get those wins, [and] we'll look forward to getting more wins [this season]," said Kelley.
GLIAC play for Wayne State begins Mar. 23 at Davenport, and WSU's first home game at Harwell Field will be Mar. 29 versus Ashland at 3 p.m.