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2020 Conference Wrap: Mid-American

Analysis

It’s still hard to believe the 2020 college baseball season is over after just four weeks of play. Most conferences didn’t even reach league play before the coronavirus halted the season, so it would be pointless to give out any legitimate awards or draw any sweeping conclusions from our meager sample size. With that in mind, we won’t be releasing a 2020 All-America team, or naming a national Player of the Year or Freshman of the Year.

But informally, we can still take a look back at those first four weeks and highlight some players who stood out. Keep in mind that nonconference strength of schedules vary dramatically, and four weeks really isn’t a long enough period to even determine how strong a given schedule truly was. With those caveats out of the way, here are some superlative picks for the Mid-American Conference, which played four weeks of nonconference action and had yet to reach conference play.

Here are the superlative categories:

  • Best Team
  • Most Surprising Team
  • Most Impressive Hitter
  • Most Impressive Pitcher
  • Best Senior
  • Best Freshman
  • Breakout Player
  • Breakout Pitcher

BEST TEAM

Central Michigan

Following a losing season in 2018, the Chippewas experienced a resurgence under first year coach Jordan Bischel last year. Central Michigan won 47 games in 2019, secured regular season and MAC tournament championships with Bischel being named conference Coach of the Year. The Chippewas picked up where they left off to open the 2020 campaign, finishing with an 11-6 record against warm weather teams that were able to spend considerably more time outside practicing to prepare for the season. Unsurprisingly, the early season returns didn’t come as a shock to the coaching staff.  

“We thought we’d have a pretty good team this year,” said Bischel. “Obviously we jumped in with the expectation of success, which I think always helps you early in the season. On the experience side, we had guys that played deep into the postseason the year before and expected to win. And we had a couple of high-end guys like Zavier [Warren] and Griff [Griffin Lockwood-Powell]. I think Zavier was an All-American the year before and Griff was one of the top performers in the conference. So, all of that added up to knowing we had a chance to be pretty good, and for the most part I think guys lived up to that and prepared pretty well. Probably more than anything, what I was happy about was we were stepping on the field against southern teams or warm climate teams and played pretty well in those scenarios.”

Leaning on a veteran laden lineup, the Chippewas were leading the conference in batting average (.277) and on-base percentage (.402) when play was halted, with series wins against UNLV, Jacksonville State, North Florida and a split against Arizona. 

“If you look at our top four in the order, [Zach] Gillis, [Zach] Heeke, Warren and Lockwood Powell, the number of plate appearances for those guys combined coming into the year was pretty substantially high. That makes it easy early in a season as those guys are taking a big part of the load off and obviously, we really benefited from that experience early on.”

 

Click below to read the rest of our MAC wrap!


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