TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology baseball team will open the 2017 baseball season ranked No. 37 nationally in the Collegiate Baseball NCAA Division III Preseason Top 40 Poll.
The Fightin' Engineers also received 34 poll points in the D3baseball.com/NCBWA Top 25 poll, marking the 10th highest total among those receiving votes outside the Top 25.
Rose-Hulman advanced to the Central Regional Championship Game, the equivalent of the Division III Baseball Round of 16, with a memorable NCAA Tournament run last May. The Fightin' Engineers finished 32-13 overall with wins over Wartburg, Washington University and Wisconsin-Whitewater, before the nationally ranked Whitewater squad won two elimination games over the Fightin' Engineers in the Regional Title Round.
Rose-Hulman also won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season and postseason tournament championships in 2016. The Fightin' Engineers won the HCAC Tournament championship with a 7-6 win over Earlham at Art Nehf Field last May.
The Fightin' Engineers were hit hard by graduation after the 2016 season, as 14 seniors earned their diplomas. The offense features three returning starters in reigning HCAC Tournament Most Valuable Player Zach Trusk (.354, 10 2B, 2 HR), senior infielder Drew Schnitz (.316, 7 2B, 2 HR) and sophomore outfielder David Burnside (.314, 19 2B, 2 HR).
The pitching staff graduated starters in 42 of the 45 games last season. Junior Joey Callahan leads the returning starters after finishing 2-1 with 21 strikeouts in 30 innings of work. Senior Cody Sunderhaus recorded a 0.53 earned run average with six saves, improving his career totals to 3-1 with a 0.33 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 27 innings of work. Junior Ian Grant, senior Jonathan Banks, junior Chuck Alexa and sophomore Trevor Dallio all gained action in more than five outings in 2016.
Veteran head coach Jeff Jenkins enters his 28th season at the helm of this spring. Jenkins has a career record of 733-480-2, including a mark of 688-415-1 at Rose-Hulman. Assistant coach Sean Bendel returns for his 19th season, giving the Fightin' Engineers one of the most experienced coaching staffs in the nation.
Rose-Hulman opens the 2017 season with a matchup against Neumann on Feb. 26 to open its six-game annual Florida spring trip. The Fightin' Engineer home opener is scheduled for March 7 against Greenville College.