SHREVEPORT, La. - It is still more than a month before the first pitch for the Centenary baseball team in 2018, but the good news is already starting.
Released by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper on Wednesday, December 20, the Gents were chosen 12th in its annual NCAA Division III Preseason baseball rankings.
"It says a lot about what people think of Centenary baseball and the program we're building here as we now have been ranked in the top-12 in the country the past three seasons," explained 2017 West Region Coach of the Year Mike Diaz. "I know our guys are excited to get the season underway and start competing. But they also understand that the only rankings that matter are the ones at tourney time and at the end of the year."
The Diamond Gents are the only ranked team for the preseason from the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (Trinity and Texas Lutheran are receiving votes). Centenary will play 12 games against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the preseason poll: one game at second-ranked Cal Lutheran (March 11) and four against 19th-ranked UT Tyler (February 18 and 27, March 27, April 10). Among those receiving votes, the Diamond Gents travel to Texas Lutheran (April 13-14) and host Trinity (April 28-29) for a three-game series.
For 2018, the Maroon and White return 6-of-9 starters from a team that won both the SCAC Regular Season and Tournament Championships to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The Diamond Gents also return their entire starting rotation - including 11-game winners, senior Kaleb Kirk and junior Matthew Devillier. Devillier garnered SCAC Pitcher of the Year honors.
Offensively, Chris Zapata returns for his senior season after being named First Team All-America as a catcher by both the American Baseball Coaches Association and D3Baseball.com.
Centenary will kick off the 2018 season in Shreveport with the Gents Classic against Pacific and Whitworth February 2-4.