The Mavericks received three first-place votes and a total of 15 points. South Dakota State came in second with 12 points and one first-place vote while North Dakota State had 10 points for third place. Western Illinois received the final first-place vote and totaled eight points followed by Fort Wayne with five points.
Omaha welcomes back a pair of first team (Alex Mortensen, Tyler Splichal) and a pair of second team (Brett Bass, Clayton Taylor) all-league performers from a year ago. Bass (.301), Mortensen (.318) and Taylor (.352) all finished the 2013 campaign in the league’s top-10 in batting average. Taylor is the league’s top returning hitter and was first in on-base percentage (.464) a year ago while Mortensen finished second in the league in doubles (15). Right-handers Tyler Fox and Zach Williamsen are the Mavericks top returning hurlers. Fox finished with a 6-2 record and 3.99 ERA while Williamsen was 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 42 strikeouts.
South Dakota State, last season’s tournament champion, is led by second team all-league pitchers Adam Bray and J.D. Moore. Bray was 7-2 with a 3.19 ERA last season and also totaled 41 strikeouts and one complete game. Moore led the league with 13 saves and 26 appearances while being named to the All-Tournament Team. Offensively, Paul Jacobson and All-Tournament Team selection Scott Splett are welcomed back. Jacobson had a stellar freshman campaign batting .293 with 15 doubles and 37 runs scored. Splett hit .288 with 32 RBI on the year.
North Dakota State returns a league-high five all-league selections, including four first team selections, for the 2014 season. Kyle Kleinendorst led the Bison with a .333 average, fourth-best in the league, while Tim Colwell led the league with 40 runs scored and was second with four triples. Jon Hechtner (.269 BA) and Wes Satzinger (.307 BA, 32 RBI, .487 SLG) rounded out NDSU’s first team returnees. Second-teamer John Skrbec (.253 BA, 37 H) also returns while David Ernst (5-5, 3.43 ERA, 2 SO) headlines the Bison pitching staff.
A total of 11 pitchers, including second team all-league and all-tournament team selection Aaron Michel, return for Western Illinois. Michel led The Summit League with a 1.23 ERA and a .179 opponent batting average a year ago as a freshman. All-league honorees Jameson Henning (.297 BA, 26 RBI) and Neil DeCook (.300 BA, .370 OBP) also return to the Leatherneck lineup.
Fort Wayne welcomes back three all-league second team selections in Caleb Fenimore, Steve Lowden and Tyler Shepherd. Fenimore recorded 18 RBI while Lowden had 47 hits last season. Shepherd led the league with 29 stolen bases and was tops in the Mastodons lineup with a .296 average. Steve Danielak (5-4, 4.25 ERA) highlights the list pitchers returning for the ‘Dons.
In all, a total of 17 all-league honorees from 2013 return with each team welcoming back at least two, led by North Dakota State’s five all-league performers.
Regular season play begins Feb. 14 and league play starts March 28. All four postseason eligible teams will compete for The Summit League Baseball Championship, hosted by South Dakota State University from May 22-24. The winner of the double-elimination format tournament will claim the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
2014 Summit League Baseball Preseason Poll
PlaceTeamPoints (1st)2013 Record
1. Omaha 15 (3) 27-22 (20-6)
2. South Dakota State 12 (1) 35-24 (16-12)
3. North Dakota State 10 26-27 (11-13)
4. Western Illinois 8 (1) 19-37 (9-17)
5. Fort Wayne 5 22-32 (9-21)