The Quakers ended the 2016 season with a 19–22 record overall, including a 10–10 Ivy League mark, and return as the biggest offensive threat in the conference to this year’s roster. Senior catcher Tim Graul, last year’s unanimous Ivy League Player of the Year, led the Ancient Eight in home runs, runs batted in, doubles, hits, and slugging percentage as a junior.
Alongside sophomore catcher Matt O’Neill, who took home 2016 Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors, Graul commands a strong Penn battery this season. Junior southpaw Gabe Kleiman finished second in the conference with a 2.24 ERA last season, while senior Mike Reitcheck sports a team-leading 1.15 mark through four starts.
The Quakers enter Ivy League competition with an 8–9 record salvaged by a six-game win streak. Their offense currently sits fourth in the conference with 147 hits and third with 32 doubles, but otherwise falls to the bottom half of the Ancient Eight batting orders. The Red and Blue will take on the Bulldogs for the first time this season on April 9 at Yale Field.
The Bulldogs will hit the mound against Princeton, the reigning Ivy League champion, for a pair of games on April 1 at Clarke Field in New Jersey. Seven Tigers received 2016 All-Ivy honors, headlined by unanimous first-team All-Ivy Pitcher of the Year Chad Powers. The La Canada, California native led the conference with a 2.07 ERA and keyed an instrumental comeback in the Ivy League championship series versus Yale, striking out a career-high of eight Bulldogs.
Powers will return to the Princeton roster this season alongside two fellow 2016 first-team selections: senior infielder Zack Belski and sophomore outfielder Jesper Horsted, the latter of whom recorded a 0.326 average and a 0.374 on-base percentage as a rookie last year.
This season’s Tiger freshmen have made significant contributions through 17 nonconference games. Infielder David Harding and outfielder Conor Nolan both boast batting averages over 0.280 and on-base percentages north of 0.340, while rookie hurler James Proctor holds a 3.70 ERA in 24.1 innings. Coached by the 2016 Ivy League Coach of the Year, Scott Bradley, the Tigers enter Ivy League action with a 4–14 record.
The Lions ended the 2016 season in a tie with Penn, with a 10–10 Ivy League record. Though five Lions picked up All-Ivy honors last season, only two of those players returned for the 2017 season.
Columbia currently sits at the bottom of the Lou Gehrig Division with a 3–13 record, ranking below the average conference marks in nearly every major offensive category. Junior infielder Randell Kanemaru provides a spot of optimism in the Lions’ anemic lineup, posting a team-high 0.373 batting average with 13 RBIs in 13 games.
Reliever Harrison Egly, Columbia’s other returning All-Ivy honoree from last season, will help lead the Lions on the bump in his junior season. The Edina, Minnesota native has already made program history as the all-time leader in career saves, contributing five saves and 31 strikeouts in 27.2 innings of relief in 2016. Egly will look to settle a 10.30 nonconference ERA with the arrival of conference competition this weekend. The Lions will step to the plate against Yale on April 8 at Yale Field.
Cornell’s season is off to a very strong start, sitting atop the Ivy League with a No. 40 rank in the NCAA ratings-percentage index. The Big Red has had no problem swinging their bats in 2017: juniors Ryan Krainz and Dale Wickham rank second and third in the Ivy League with respective 0.422 and 0.418 batting averages, while senior Tommy Wagner began his season with a 12-game hitting streak.
The junior class is also marked by the continued success of catcher Ellis Bitar, who appeared on the Johnny Bench Award watch list for the second consecutive season. Last season, Bitar posted a 0.288 batting average and threw out 14 prospective base-stealers, the highest total among all Ivy catchers.
On the mound, senior standout Paul Balestrieri leads the Big Red with three wins in four starts, most recently giving up just one run in seven innings of work last Sunday in Cornell’s loss to Bucknell. Senior Peter Lannoo will again be a reliable bullpen option in 2017, having already recorded a team-high two saves in five relief outings.
Cornell will start Ivy play this weekend at Hoy Field in Ithaca with a doubleheader against Brown this Saturday, followed by a pair of games against Yale on Sunday.