Monday, February 12, 2018

Men's Baseball: Michael Rothmund, Cole Taylor wield big bats for UIS baseball team

First baseman Michael Rothmund estimates he smashed a home run 430 feet during the University of Illinois Springfield baseball team’s spring break trip to Georgia last March.

“That was probably the farthest ball I’ve ever hit,” he said. “I got all of it.”

That’s not out of the ordinary for Rothmund. He was the national leader in home runs last season. “He has hit plenty well over 400 feet,” UIS baseball coach Chris Ramirez said. He was first in NCAA Division II with 24 home runs. He also ranked fifth nationally in slugging percentage. He was ninth in RBIs (68) and total bases (161).

Not to be outdone by Rothmund, Cole Taylor also wielded a big bat. It earned him a spot on the NCAA Division II All-America Third Team in his first season with the Prairie Stars. Taylor, who transferred from Parkland College, became the first UIS player to receive all-American honors.

The infielder from Fairmount, near Danville, ranked third in the nation in doubles. He ranked among the Great Lakes Valley Conference leaders in several offensive categories. He was first in doubles, second in hits and third in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and triples. He ranked fourth in home runs and sixth in RBIs.

Ramirez has a front row seat to one of the top offensive duos in the nation.

In January, Taylor and Rothmund were named Division II preseason All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper as they head into their senior seasons. They were both all-conference and all-region last year. “Those guys are baseball rats,” he said. “They talk hitting. They think hitting. They’re in the cage. They’re looking at video. They’re always trying to find their swing. I think that shows.”

The Stars have been known for their offensive firepower under Ramirez. Their .319 team batting average was first in the GLVC last season. They ranked 15th in the nation in home runs with 70. “Our team offense was top 25 in five or six offensive categories nationally, including home runs, runs scores, runs per game and doubles,” Ramirez said.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on February 10, 2018.

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