Pool A features #1 Kent State, #8 Central Michigan, #10 Towson, #14 Wisconsin-Platteville, and the “Miscellaneous Team” that features players from Moody Bible, North Texas, and Louisville. Here is the schedule for Pool A:
9:15 PM- Towson vs UWP, Kent vs CMU
8:45 AM- Kent vs Misc, CMU vs Towson
10:00 AM- Kent vs UWP
11:15 AM- Towson vs Misc
12:30 PM: CMU vs Misc
1:45 PM: UWP vs Misc
-Led by Dan Shackelford and Camden Fullmer
-Biggest Win: Saginaw Valley
-Strength: Throwing. One of the fastest throwing teams in the league when they’re on, Kent has a group of solid power arms that can blast anyone.
-Weakness: First point. Kent has a hard time with the first point, and need to get woken up before they really get going.
-Impact Player: Mitch Malleo (Kent #8). Kent needs a third thrower to step up with Shackelford and Fullmer, and Malleo fits the bill.
-X-Factor: Blocking. Kent relies on blocking specific players more than any other team in the league, so keeping their blockers in play and out of the out line is crucial. With Jason Hallman’s graduation and Billy Cameron’s injury, this is a previous strength that could be a weakness at Nationals for the Flashes.
-Led by Wes Peters, Brett Hadwin, and Bryce Corrion
-Biggest Win: Miami
-Strength: Catching. The Chips are one of the best catching teams in the league, and their three stars are all elite catchers. They can catch their way to victory against any team.
-Weakness: Power throwing. Outside of Corrion (CMU #00-A) the Chips have only a few power arms in their lineup.
-Impact Player: Bryce Corrion (CMU #00-A). He’s one of the top players in the league, if not the top player, when healthy. He’s got a great arm and can snag anything that comes his way.
-X-Factor: Will the Chips have a full 15? They’ve shown they can win with 10, but it’ll be hard to make a run with such a depleted roster.
-Led by Jonathan Shaw, Katie Polacheck, and Sean Smith
-Biggest Win: Maryland
-Strength: Counter Attack. The speedy Tigers have a great transition game and can eliminate opposing players while they’re backpedaling.
-Weakness: Catching. Outside of Shanice Parran (TU #9), Towson is limited in their catching abilities.
-Impact Player: Joe Tobin (TU #5). He has a rocket arm and his hits really get the Tigers rolling.
-X-Factor: Jordan Haxton (TU #3). Haxton’s blocking ability will be needed to protect the Towson power arms in the tournament.
(no preview due to limited games played)
Kent vs CMU: Kent beat CMU 5-0 in November at the MSU Invite, but that was a ten man Chippewa squad. If the Chips can bring a full 15, they could take a point or two just from pure catching alone, but I think the Kent firepower may be too much for Central to handle.
Towson vs UWP: These schools have never met, and it would realistically have taken Nationals for them to meet. UWP has some good arms, and Towson is more focused on their countering and arms as well. This should be an old fashioned slugfest.
Kent vs Misc: No word yet on whether or not the Miscellaneous team can actually accumulate wins, but even if they can I think Kent should handle them.
CMU vs Towson: Central has the best player in this game, and they’ll be able to catch the Tigers’ solo throws. However, Towson will undoubtedly have more depth, and if they win this game they’ll likely be 3-0 on Saturday. This game will be a great one to watch.
Kent vs UWP: Two teams relying on offensive throwing, this could be the worst matchup for Kent in their schedule. Kent State is still the favorite for this game, but don’t sleep on Wisconsin-Platteville.
Towson vs Misc: The Miscellaneous team should have some good players, but likely not any organization. Towson should be able to win this one.
CMU vs Misc: Central’s catching alone should win this game, but it’ll also be a good chance for them to build some momentum for Sunday.
UWP vs Misc: This would be the best chance I think for the Miscellaneous team to get a win, but I still don’t think they’ll have enough.
(courtesy of Shadeed Drakeford, VCU)
Winner of Pool A: Kent State. Chances are Kent State is probably going 4-0 in this bracket. There is a chance (40-60%) that they will beat one opponent and not allow one point against them. It just depends on what they want to do.
2nd place: CMU. Even though CMU is an under men team for the majority of the year… it would be very difficult to count them out. One thing I have notice is experience can overcome talent and numbers. Plus they can catch. And being in this league, catching is just as important if not more important then throwing.
(courtesy of Sam Hiller, MSU)
Co-Winners of Pool A: Kent and Towson (3-0)
Third Place (tie): CMU and UWP (1-2)
Fifth: Miscellaneous (0-4)