By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- The Willamette University baseball team is ranked #18 in the Final NCAA Division III Baseball Rankings for the 2018 season as released by HERO Sports. The Bearcats also were listed as having the fifth toughest strength of schedule in Division III this season.
Willamette finished the year with a 31-19 overall record. The Bearcats won the Northwest Conference Tournament and reached the championship game of the NCAA Spokane Regional before falling to eventual national runner-up Texas Lutheran University. Willamette played 50 games for the first time in school history.
Along the way, Willamette set school records with 1,680 at bats, 97 doubles, 16 triples, and 79 combined sacrifices (bunts and flies). On defense, the team set records with 1,315 putouts and 538 assists, while tying the school record with a .968 fielding percentage. Team pitching records were set for most innings (438 13/) and most saves (13). The Bearcats tied the team record for most wins, matching the 1998 team that went 31-12.
The Bearcats were ranked second on Willamette's all-time lists with 481 hits and 216 walks. Pitchers combined for second all-time with 260 strikeouts. The team was third all-time with 323 runs scored, and placed fourth with 38 home runs and 286 RBIs.
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater was #1 in the final HERO Sports rankings. Randolph-Macon College (Va.) was #2 and national champion University of Texas-Tyler was #3. College of Wooster (Ohio) was #4 and Concordia University Chicago was #5.
Teams the Bearcats played during the season that were included in the final Top 30 were University of Texas-Dallas at #6, national runner-up Texas Lutheran at #7, Swarthmore College (Pa.) at #11, Chapman College (Calif.) at #14, and Linfield College at #27.
In strength of schedule, Concordia University Texas was listed first. Brevard College (N.C.) was second, while Texas-Tyler was third, Pacific Lutheran University was fourth and Willamette was fifth.