Play Video Baseball Kicks Off 2016 Campaign Friday
Diamond Gents return sophomore catcher Chris Zapata, who led the team in batting average and was named Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year
Baseball Kicks Off 2016 Campaign Friday
Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The 2016 edition of the Centenary baseball team, coming off a first place finish in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season for the second time in three seasons, looks to continue its successful run in its fourth season in the SCAC.

The Maroon and White enter the season selected to finish third in a vote held by the SCAC Coaches. Trinity, who finished the regular season in a tie for second last season, received 6-of-7 first place votes to win the conference crown.

The Gents will have the benefit of the last three conference Freshman Player of the Years in senior right-handed pitcher Paul Acrement (2013), junior infielder Aaron Quintanilla (2014) and sophomore catcher Chris Zapata (2015). Zapata, who was the only freshman to appear on the First or Second All-Conference team last season, led the team in both batting average (.358) and hits (40). Quintanilla, garnered All-Conference honors each of his first two seasons, finished second on the team with 104 assists and fifth with .293 batting average.

While this season’s pitching staff has to replace 2015 SCAC Pitcher of the Year in closer Taylor Henry, who was drafted in the 21st round of the MLB Draft by the N.Y. Mets, the Gents return two-thirds of their weekend starters. Senior right-handed pitcher Holden Novak earned Second Team All-Conference honors last season, finishing second in the SCAC in both overall wins (eight) and victories in conference games (four).  

Sophomore right-hander Kaleb Kirk returns after finishing the season 3-2 with a 2.09 ERA. His only complete game of the year came on the final day of the regular season, allowing four hits while throwing only 96 pitches in nine innings of work to help Centenary clinch an outright SCAC regular season title against Texas Lutheran on April 26, 2015.

Another top returner is junior outfielder and Shreveport-native Michael Schimpf, who started all 41 games last season. He finished third for the Gents with a .309 batting average.

Finally, the Maroon and White will have the benefit of a two-time SCAC Coach of the Year honoree on the bench in head coach Mike Diaz. Diaz embarks on his 12th season with the Gents, including his sixth as head coach. Accolades for the Gents during his tenure as head coach include four MLB Draftees, the aforementioned SCAC Freshman of the Year and Pitcher of the Year honorees, 30 All-Conference selections, 12 All-Tournament members, three All-Region winners, two Freshman All-Americans, and a D3baseball.com and an American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-American.

The 2016 schedule features six contests against teams who qualified for the 2015 NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament in 2015, including a three-game set against Division III College World Series participant Trinity in Shreveport March 25-26.

The Maroon and White’s other three games against NCAA participants will be played in Tyler, Texas. Centenary battles UT-Tyler and Birmingham Southern as part of the Clements Fluid Tournament to begin and end the weekend February 12-14. The middle game will be played against regional-rival LeTourneau in Longview, Texas.

 

The Gents make a midseason, weekday trip to UT-Tyler for the final regular season non-conference game April 19.

“We set our schedule to play the best competition possible to prepare us for conference and post season play,” said Gents Head Coach Mike Diaz. “I feel that this year's schedule attains that goal, and we are excited for opening day 2016.”

The Gents begin the season with a seven and nine-inning games against in-state rival, Louisiana College, February 5 in Shreveport. The Maroon and White make the return trip to Pineville the next day to take on the Wildcats in the same format of two games.

 

2016 SCAC Baseball Preseason Poll

 

No. of Votes  

2015 SCAC  

2015 Overall

1. Trinity University   

48 (6)

13-5

40-14

2. Texas Lutheran University  

39 (1)

13-5

25-14

3. Centenary College

36

15-3

24-17

4. Southwestern University

30

8-10

20-22

5. University of Dallas

18

4-14

10-26

6. Austin College

13

6-12

8-21

7. Schreiner University

12

4-14

7-31