Baseball season is soon to be underway, and the academies are hoping for yet another NCAA Tournament appearance.
Last season, Army won the Patriot League title and made the big dance. They lost both regional games but are picked as the preseason favorite to win their fourth consecutive league title.
Behind them, Navy is projected second in the Patriot League.
Air Force has one of the better prospects in the country, as Paul Skenes was listed on the preseason Golden Spikes watch list.
We are in for another fun season of baseball. Let’s make more than one appearance in the big dance this year.
Iowa vs Air Force (Charleston) – NOON (HiCast)
UMBC vs Navy – 2 p.m.
Richmond vs Army (Charleston) – 4 p.m. (HiCast)
UMBC vs Navy – 1 p.m.
Ball State vs Air Force (Charleston) – 1:30 p.m. (HiCast)
Army vs Air Force (Charleston) – 5 p.m. (HiCast)
Ball State vs Army – 10 a.m. (HiCast)
Richmond vs Air Force – 1 p.m. (HiCast)
Coppin State vs Navy – 2 p.m.
Heading into the 2022 campaign, the Army Black Knights have been picked as the preseason favorite to win their fourth-straight Patriot League title.
Last season, Army went 28-25 (15-11) beating Lehigh in the championship series and heading to the NCAA Tournament yet again. The Black Knights fell short in the regionals, losing to the top two seeds Texas Tech and UCLA.
This season, Army returns five first-team Patriot League players.
On the mound, Anthony LoRicco is the Black Knights ace. Last season, he held opponents to a .276 average at the plate. Behind him, Connelly Early pitched to a 2.23 ERA as a reliever.
The left side of the infield is the Black Knights strength as both shortstop Kevin Debrule and third baseman Sam Ruta made the first team. Outfielder Sam Manesis was an honorable mention as an outfielder.
Opening the season, they’ll take a trip to Charleston, South Carolina to face Richmond, Air Force, and Ball State. The Spiders were picked eighth in the A10 preseason poll as Ball State was picked second in the MAC.
Air Force will also open its season in Charleston but sit in a different boat than Army.
Picked fifth in the Mountain West preseason poll, they don’t have a target on their back. They do have one of the best players in the country though, pitcher/catcher prospect Paul Skenes.
Skenes was selected to the preseason watch list for the Golden Spikes award, the best amateur baseball player. During his freshman season, he hit an outstanding .410 while pitching to a 2.70 ERA in 18 appearances.
He’ll put his talents to the test as the Falcons face Iowa, Ball State, Army, and Richmond this weekend.
The best team not named Army in the Patriot League is Navy. They were picked second in the preseason poll and have an outstanding duo in their lineup.
Christian Policelli had a career season last year at the plate, hitting .340. He was also behind the plate for 28 of the 32 Midshipmen baseball games.
Zach Stevens also returns for the Mids and he hasn’t hit under .300 once in his career in Annapolis. Coupling with that, he had an outstanding .987 fielding percentage last season. Those were both the worst of his career, if that says anything.
Along with them, shortstop Eduardo Diaz was named the Patriot League preseason defensive player of the year. He fielded to a .988 tilt as a Freshman a year ago.
Navy will open the season with a two-game series against UMBC, which they beat 8-6 in 2020. The Retrievers are picked to finish seventh in the America East.
The Midshipmen will also host Coppin State in a midweek game, a team they swept in a two-game series last season. Coppin was picked third in the MEAC preseason poll.