The Canisius College baseball team was chosen to repeat as champions of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in the preseason coaches poll. Senior Jimmy Luppens was a unanimous selection as the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year.
The Golden Griffins, who won the program’s first MAAC Championship in 2013, earned 117 points in the 11-team coaches poll. Behind Canisius was new MAAC member Monmouth (103), Rider (95), Siena (86), Marist (77) and Fairfield (69). The MAAC Championship will feature six teams for the first time and be played May 21-25 at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, N.J. Following Fairfield was Manhattan (57), Niagara (37), Saint Peter’s (31), Iona (28) and Quinnipiac (26).
The Griffs were selected to finish in the top three of the MAAC standings for the seventh consecutive season and picked to finish first for the fourth time (2008, 2009 and 2012).
Luppens, a 2013 First-Team All-MAAC selection, is the first Golden Griffin to be named the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year since Kevin Mahoney in 2009. As a junior in 2013, Luppens tied for the team lead with a .360 batting average and led the MAAC in on-base percentage (.465). The Wading River, N.Y. native ranked third in the MAAC in batting average, home runs (five) and RBI (48) and was fifth in slugging percentage (.495). Following the season, Luppens earned ABCA All-Northeast Region Division I First-Team honors as well as ECAC Division I All-Star accolades.
Canisius went 42-17 in 2013, setting a program and MAAC record with the 42 victories. The Griffs won the MAAC Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history, playing in the Chapel Hill Regional. The Griffs return seven position players in the starting lineup and 12 players who started at least 20 games. Canisius also returns three of its top four starting pitchers and five relievers who appeared in at least 10 games.
Canisius opens the 2014 season with four neutral-site games at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, N.C. The Golden Griffins face Albany on Friday, Feb. 14, with first pitch set for 1 p.m.