UW-Oshkosh is projected to finish second in the WIAC baseball standings, according to a preseason poll conducted by the league's head coaches and sports information directors.
Two-time defending WIAC champion UW-Whitewater topped the preseason poll. The Warhawks secured their 18th league title by two games a year ago over 29-time conference champion UW-Oshkosh. Both UW-Oshkosh (34-10 record in 2018) and UW-Whitewater (33-8) represented the conference at last season's NCAA Division III Championship.
Following the Warhawks and Titans in the conference preseason poll were UW-La Crosse (24-15) in third, UW-Stevens Point (24-14) in fourth, UW-Stout (10-27) in fifth, UW-Platteville (10-30) in sixth and new affiliate member Finlandia University (Mich.) (10-18) in seventh.
UW-Whitewater finished last season with a 20-4 record in league play to edge UW-Oshkosh's mark of 18-6.
Rounding out last year's standings were third-place UW-Stevens Point with a 15-9 record, fourth-place UW-La Crosse at 14-10, fifth-place UW-Stout at 7-17 and sixth-place UW-Platteville at 4-20.
UW-Oshkosh secured a NCAA bid a year ago for the first time since the 2008 campaign and compiled 34 victories, which were the most for the program since 35 wins in 2007.
The Titans, off to a 1-5 start in 2019, entered this season ranked 18th by D3baseball.com.
Titans senior outfielder Alex Koch headlines the returners to the starting lineup after garnering All-WIAC First Team accolades last season. A 2017 all-league honorable mention pick, Koch hit .335 a year ago with 43 runs, 11 doubles, a team-leading six triples and seven home runs, 42 runs batted in, and six stolen bases.
UW-Oshkosh senior shortstop Dylan Ott had a team-high .454 on-base percentage in 2018 while batting .349 batting and ranking second on the team with 15 steals on the way to being named to the All-WIAC Honorable Mention Team for the second time.
Also returning for UW-Oshkosh after receiving more than 15 starts last season are senior catcher Jensen Hinton, junior infielder Zack Radde, senior infielder Jonathan Selchow and second baseman Hunter Staniske.
On the mound, UW-Oshkosh's Colan Treml led the WIAC with 12 starting assignments, a 10-0 record, 88.0 innings pitched and five complete games, while placing third with a 2.15 earned run average and 74 strikeouts.
UW-Whitewater brings back senior infielder Cal Aldridge, who topped the league with 19 doubles and 15 home runs while finishing second in the WIAC with a .451 batting average, 69 hits, 53 runs and 52 RBIs.
The Warhawks' Michael Kaska, the reigning WIAC Pitcher of the Year also returns after leading the conference with a 1.41 earned run average and ranking second with nine victories.
UW-La Crosse welcomes back seven starting position players, including Nate Heili, who could become just the second four-time All-WIAC First Team selection in program history. Heili led the 2018 squad with a .432 on-base percentage, 52 hits, 39 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, five home runs and 36 RBIs.
UW-Stevens Point's Ryan Stanicek returns after producing a team-best .547 slugging percentage, .410 on-base percentage, six home runs, 34 runs and 14 stolen bases, while finishing second a .302 batting average.
UW-Stout brings back eight starting position players, including Jordan Wilson, who led the squad with a .327 batting average, 12 doubles, 34 RBI and 23 runs scored.
UW-Platteville will be under the direction of first-year head coach Chad Harris. The Pioneers bring back all nine starting position players, including Josh Moses, who has led the team in batting the last two seasons.
Finlandia University begins its first season as an affiliate member with the conference after previously being a member of the City University of New York Athletic Conference. The Lions have 18 returning letter winners from a year ago, including Joey Krug, who led the team with a .330 batting average, three home runs and 19 RBIs.
UW-Oshkosh continues the 2019 season with three games this weekend in Lexington, Ky. The Titans open their trip to the Bluegrass State on Saturday (March 16) with single contests against Ohio Athletic Conference members Otterbein and John Carroll universities.