ANDERSON — In a vote of the 10 baseball coach in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, Anderson University was selected as the favorite to win the league title this spring.
The vote was tight as the Ravens got four of the votes for first place and narrowly edged out Manchester, the conference's defending champion. Franklin College was third, just seven points behind Anderson.
"This is an honor," said AU baseball coach David Pressley. "There are a lot of great coaches in this conference and it means a lot to be picked by your peers. We've got a good team, but I know it matters more where you finish."
The Ravens were second in the 2013 campaign with a 15-10 mark. Anderson will be looking for its third regular season conference title and for its sixth straight appearance in the HCAC tournament.
"We are beginning to be more of a veteran ball club," said Pressley. "Our junior and senior classes have started to grow. Hopefully these veterans will help us achieve the goals we are hoping to achieve."
Anderson returns a pair of All-HCAC performers from a season ago, junior outfielder Jake Craft and junior outfielder Jeremy Shelmadine.
Craft hit a team-high .339 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs. Shelmadine was right behind with .331, eight doubles and 22 RBIs.
Jake Eaton was their top pitcher with a 6-1 record and a 3.64 ERA, good enough for a spot on the league's second team.
There are five players on the Ravens' roster with area ties and none of them are seniors. A pair of Anderson High School products are junior catcher Cole Heberling and junior first baseman Jordan Ball.
Another is sophomore outfielder Boston Fields from Lapel. The final two are both freshmen, second baseman Chandler Grogan of Shenandoah and pitcher Taylor Clark, a Daleville product.
The Ravens are set to open the season March 2 and 3 in Xenia, Ohio, playing two games each against Marietta and DePauw. AU is scheduled to play its home opener on March 8 against Denison before leaving for its annual Florida trip a week after that.
Conference play begins March 21 at Transylvania.