ELMHURST, Ill. – Oral Roberts has been tabbed to repeat as Summit League baseball champions in a poll of the league’s head coaches. The Golden Eagles are looking to extend on their record 16 regular season titles and 17 tournament championships in 2017.
ORU received all five of its possible first-place votes for 25 total points. South Dakota State received the final first-place vote and placed second with 18 points. North Dakota State followed closely in third (17 points) followed by Omaha (13 points), Western Illinois (9 points) and Fort Wayne (8 points).
#SummitBSB Preseason Notes
- A total of 14 all-league selections return for the 2017 season, including eight second-teamers.
- Nine of the 14 all-tournament team selections from a year ago return to the field in 2017.
- Oral Roberts’ Brent Williams (.297, 55 RBI) is the lone major award winner returning. Williams captured Newcomer of the Year honors in his first year at first base for the Golden Eagles.
- In addition to Williams, ORU first teamers Matt Whatley (.363, 42 R), Noah Cummings (.364, 18 2B) and Brady Womacks (1.22 ERA, 14 SV) are welcomed back.
- South Dakota State brings back a trio of second team selections from last season in catcher Luke Ringhofer (.361, .482 OB%), first baseman Matt Johnson (.267, 48 RBI) and reliever Landon Busch (3.34 ERA).
- Second baseman Drew Fearing (.327, 41 R), a first team honoree in 2016, returns for North Dakota State.
- The Mavericks welcome back first team utility player Ryan Cate (.317, 5 HR), while Western Illinois returns second team selection Ian Koch (4.73 ERA, 34 K) to its starting rotation and second baseman Jackson Boyce (.294, 15 SB) is back in the mix for Fort Wayne.
- Oral Roberts is in search of extending its league record of 16 regular season championships and 17 tournament titles.
#SummitBSB Schedule Notes
- The 2017 season begins Feb. 17 with league action starting March 17.
- The first rematch of the last two year’s championship game between Fort Wayne and Oral Roberts takes place in Fort Wayne from April 7-8. The two squads meet again in Tulsa, April 28-30.
- League teams face a total of five different teams ranked in the preseason polls by either DIBaseball.com and/or the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
- The top four teams in the regular-season standings will qualify for The Summit League Baseball Championship in Tulsa, Okla., from May 24-27.
|2017 Summit League Baseball Preseason Poll|
|Place||Team||Points (1st)||2016 Record|
|1.||Oral Roberts||25 (5)||38-21 (22-8)|
|2.||South Dakota State||18 (1)||22-35 (13-17)|
|3.||North Dakota State||17||29-25 (12-18)|
|5.||Western Illinois||9||14-36 (11-19)|
|6.||Fort Wayne||8||33-26 (14-16)|
Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team.
Players to Watch
Jake Weber, Fort Wayne – RHP, R-Sr.
– 2016 Summit League Academic Honor Roll selection
– Two-time Commissioner’s List of Academic Excellence recipient
– Led Mastodons with 13 saves last season
Drew Fearing, North Dakota State – IF, Jr.
– 2016 Summit League First Team All-League selection (2B)
– Led the Bison in batting average (.327), on-base percentage (.438), runs (41), hits (64), doubles (10) and stolen bases (18) last season
– Named to the 2016 Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award Watch List
Ryan Cate, Omaha – UTL, Jr.
– 2016 First Team All-Summit League (UTL)
– Led the Mavericks with five saves a year ago
– Was second on his team with 31 runs scored and third in batting average (.317) last season
Matt Whatley, Oral Roberts – C, Jr.
– Two-time Summit League First Team All-League honoree (C) and 2015 Newcomer of the Year
– Earned Second Team ABCA/Rawlings All-Midwest Region as well as Academic All-League honors in 2016
– Led the Golden Eagles with a .469 on-base percentage and 39 walks last year
Luke Ringhofer, South Dakota State – C, Jr.
– Two-time all-league selection – 2015, first team; 2016, second team
– 2016 Summit League Baseball Championship All-Tournament Team member
– Led the Jackrabbits in batting average (.361), slugging percentage (.465), on-base percentage (.482), hits (73), runs scored (44) and walks (43)
Roman Visintine, Western Illinois – OF, Jr.
– 2016 Academic All-League recipient
– Led the Fighting Leathernecks with a .345 batting average and had a career-best 15-game hit streak in 2016
– Two-time Summit League Academic Honor Roll recipient (2015, 2016)
Note: Players to Watch selected by league’s head coaches