by Alan Babbitt
After a record-setting season, the Hope College baseball team is poised to contend for a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title this season.
The Flying Dutchmen finished runner-up in the MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll with 13 points and one first-place vote. Adrian College was first with seven points and seven first-place votes. Coaches could not vote for their own teams.
Led by head coach Stu Fritz, pictured, Hope is coming off a 31-11 season that featured the most victories in team history. The Flying Dutchmen placed second in the MIAA regular-season standings and was runner-up in the MIAA Tournament to Adrian.
Hope returns three All-MIAA honorees, all of whom were first teamers: center field Evan Maday of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Kentwood HS), right fielder Mason Opple of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) and catcher Trace Slancik of Scotts, Michigan (Vicksburg).
Maday recorded a .351 batting average last season with a team-leading 41 runs scored.
Opple needs one more run batted in to become the team's career leader. He batted .369 season with a team-leading 48 runs batted in.
Slancik hit a team-leading .371 last season with 42 runs batted in.
The 2020 season opens for the Flying Dutchmen on Saturday, February 29 with single games against Wabash College (Indiana) and Wittenberg University (Ohio) in Westfield, Indiana.