Top-seeded LaGrange opens play in the USA South Tournament on Wednesday against eighth-seeded Piedmont. The game starts at 10 a.m. at Cleaveland Field in Williamson Stadium. The tournament is part of the conference's Spring Festival being held in LaGrange.
The Panthers (31-4) enter the game ranked third in the ABCA/Collegiate Baseball poll and fourth in the D3baseball/NCBWA poll. They finished the USA South portion of their schedule 16-2.
LaGrange took two out of three at Piedmont earlier in the season. The Lions enter the game 17-17 overall and finished 7-11 in conference play.
The Panthers as a team lead the USA South in 19 different categories, including batting average (.326), earned run average (2.78), hits (397), and slugging percentage (.477). LC leads Division III in hits, doubles (81), and walks per 9 innings (1.87).
LaGrange has three of the top four hitters in the conference. Junior James Poropatic leads with a .393 batting average. Seniors Casey Bell and Tavin Thompson are third and fourth with .379 and .374 averages. Bell is tied for first with 42 RBIs and has a conference-leading 16 doubles. Senior Blake Butcher is second with seven home runs and third with 39 RBIs.
Junior Ryan Broaderick is 7-0 with a 2.02 earned run average. Senior Andrew Weekley (7-1) is tied with Broaderick for the conference lead in wins. Senior Jonathan Fleckenstein has a conference best 1.77 ERA and a 5-1 record.