Iona MAAC baseball season preview: Gaels picked to finish last but hope to surprise doubters
Hoping to buck low expectations from the preseason pollsters, the Iona Gaels baseball team will begin Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play Saturday. The Gaels are picked to finish dead last in the MAAC, according to a preseason poll of the nine conference coaches.
Iona has had a tough out-of-conference start to the season, going 2-17, in a road swing that took them to Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma. The last leg of the trip saw the Gaels get swept in a four-game series against Oklahoma State.
The Gaels hope to turn their rough start around by beating preseason MAAC favorite Manhattan in New Rochelle in their conference home opener. The Jaspers come into league play with a 6-9 record but won three out of four game at the Strike Out Cancer Tournament in New Jersey against Seton Hall and Massachusetts.
Iona will have to make up for the production it lost from 2012 MAAC Player of the Year Chris Burke, who was drafted in the 18th round of the draft by the San Diego Padres. Behind Burke, Iona finished conference play with a 10-14 record last season, its best record in MAAC play since 2004.
One of the bright spots for Iona during the road trip was freshman first baseman Christian Choman from Pennsylvania, who led the team with a .412 batting average with 14 hits in 34 at-bats.
After the three-game series with Manhattan, Iona will take on Sacred Heart in a single out-of-conference game before welcoming conference foe Canisius for a three-game series to close out March.