Knox College Baseball Team Tops Preseason Poll

Prairie Fire picked by coaches to lead Midwest Conference South Division

February 24, 2014

Knox Baseball Team at 2013 Conference Tournament

The Knox College Prairie Fire baseball team -- defending Midwest Conference South Division champion -- is predicted to repeat this spring. Knox received three of the five first place votes and 13 total points in the 2014 Midwest Conference Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll.

Knox Baseball Team at 2013 Conference Tournament

The Prairie Fire won a school-record 22 games last season and posted a 13-3 mark in the MWC South to earn the division's top seed in the conference tournament for the first time since 2008.

Knox, under 15th year head coach Jami Isaacson -- the 2013 MWC South Coach of the Year -- returns three first team all-conference players in 2014.

Knox Baseball Coach Jami Isaacson

This season's returning standouts include three senior fielders:

  • Senior outfielder Erik Smoy of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a three-time All-MWC selection who hit .364 with two home runs, five doubles, 37 RBI and a .419 on-base percentage last season.
  • Senior infielder Phil Tallman of Park Ridge, Ililnois, who hit .316, stole a team-high 12 bases and had a .399 on-base percentage.
  • Senior outfielder Jackson White of Grayslake, Illinois, a two-time first team All-MWC pick, who hit .346 with three home runs and 11 doubles, 20 RBIs, team-high 39 runs scored and .418 on-base percentage.

Knox Baseball Team at 2013 Conference Tournament

Returning top hurlers include:

  • Senior pitcher Paul Mills of Moline, Illinois, who was named the MWC South Pitcher of the Year after posting a 4-1 record with six starts in nine appearances and a 4.08 ERA while holding hitters to a .239 average, second-best in the conference.
  • Senior pitcher Peter Marquardt of Clarendon Hillls, Illinois, who had a 5-1 record in 10 appearances, including eight starts, and a 4.04 ERA. He led the staff with 49 innings pitched and 36 strikeouts.
  • Junior Nathan Grady or Antelope, California, a previous first team All-MWC selection who started 10 games last season and tossed 45.2 innings.
  • Senior Dustin Armstrong of Columbus, Ohio, who served as the team's primary closer last year and recorded seven saves, best in the conference.

Knox Baseball Team at 2013 Conference Tournament

Knox opens the 2014 baseball season against MacMurray College on March 6 at 1:00 p.m. in Jacksonville, Ill. at Lenz Field.

The 2014 baseball poll and information about all of the teams is available at the Midwest Conference website.

2013 Midwest Conference Baseball Tournament. Full-screen and captions available in a set at the Knox College Flickr channel