St. Paul, Minn. -- St. Thomas enters the 2009 MIAC Baseball
Season as the league favorite based on the Preseason Coaches’
poll. The Tommies edged St. Olaf, Gustavus, and Hamline for the top
spot. Each of those four teams played in last season's conference
playoffs. The coaches picked Concordia, Saint John's, Augsburg, and
Bethel to finish five through eight, followed by Macalester,
Carleton, and Saint Mary's. The top four teams in the regular
season standings will qualify for the 2009 MIAC Baseball Playoffs
to be played May 8-10 in Dundas and Northfield, Minn.
St. Thomas has won or shared the last six MIAC regular season crowns. The Tommies have 15 returners led by junior pitcher Matt Schuld, and two returning All-Region honorees in pitcher/third baseman Dan Leslie and first baseman Tom Wippler. St. Olaf will ride the arms of an experienced pitching staff, solid returning bats in the lineup and a traditionally good-fielding defense. The Oles are led by two-time all-region and three-time All-MIAC pick Todd Mathison.
Gustavus will feature solid defense and pitching on a team with a deep roster. Veteran infielders Mike DesLauriers (shortstop) and Nate Ruff (second baseman) will anchor the Gustie lineup. Hamline enters 2009 with one of the most decorated players in school history, but a lack of experience on the mound. Piper senior shortstop Dan Kaczrowski was named the Division III Preseason Player of the Year by Baseball America.
Concordia has high hopes for the 2009 season as the Cobber's roster includes talented group of seniors and one of the deepest pitching staffs the team has had in several years. A young Saint John's team will have plenty of depth and new faces in the starting lineup as six key players graduated from last year's squad. Augsburg will look to crack the top four in the standings, led by two-time All-MIAC junior catcher Craig Henry. Bethel lost eight seniors from last season, but a veteran pitching staff should anchor the Royals in 2009.
All-Region third baseman Devin English and pitcher James Murrey will lead Macalester in 2009 on their brand new home field. Carleton will feature its most experienced and deepest team in recent history, led by All-MIAC senior Ethan Guevin and Jay Melson. First-year head coach Nick Winecke will lead a young Saint Mary's squad after replacing former coach Nick Whaley.
The MIAC Baseball Showcase will open the 2009 conference season with five MIAC doubleheaders over two days at the Metrodome. On Friday, March 27, Augsburg and Saint Mary's will open the showcase at 4 p.m. followed by Saint John's taking on Macalester at 9:30 p.m. Carleton and Hamline will start play on Saturday, March 28 with a doubleheader at 8 a.m., followed by Gustavus and Concordia at 1:30 p.m. and St. Thomas and Bethel at 7 p.m. Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $3 for students. Free parking is available at the Metrodome East Parking Lot.
The 2009 MIAC Baseball Playoffs will once again be played in Dundas and Northfield, hosted by Carleton and St. Olaf. The four-team double elimination tournament will begin with opening round games on the afternoon of Friday, May 8 and run until Sunday, May 10, if necessary.
2009 MIAC Preseason Coaches Poll
Coaches voted for every team in the conference except their own team. Points were assigned for each vote (1 for first, 2 for second, etc.) Teams are ranked in order of lowest point total to highest with first place votes shown in parentheses.
1. St. Thomas (8)
2. St. Olaf (3)
6. Saint John's
11. Saint Mary's
2009 MIAC Playoffs: Top four teams (double elimination) - Friday - Sunday, May 8-10 at Dundas and Northfield Parks (Hosted by Carleton and St. Olaf)
Coach: Keith Bateman (6th season)
2008 Finish: 8th (8-12 MIAC, 16-20 overall)
|Augsburg Season Preview|
Depth may be the key for the
Augsburg College baseball team in its quest to return to the
four-team Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference playoffs
and contend for the conference title this season.
Coach: Greg Indlecoffer (7th season)
2008 Finish: 5th (11-9 MIAC, 21-18 overall)
|Bethel Season Preview|
The Bethel Royals are eager to return to the field in 2009 after
finishing fifth in the MIAC standings last season with an 11-9
record, 21-18 overall. However, the Royals lost the services of
eight seniors, many of whom were starters or significant
contributors. While there are some big shoes to fill, last season's
underclassmen are anxious to step up and become leaders this
Both Travis Adams (Sr., Chanhassen, Minn.) and Ben Turnwall
(Sr., Burnsville, Minn.) return to lead the Royals on the mound as
the two were named to Collegiate Baseball newspaper's list of
Division III Players to Watch. Adams compiled a 4-3 record and had
a 3.71 ERA last season. Turnwall established himself as the Royals'
closer, converting on each of his nine save opportunities to set a
new Bethel single season record. He led the MIAC in saves and had a
3.29 ERA, striking out 24 batters in just 13 2/3 innings pitched.
Kyle McCracken (Jr., Johnston, Iowa) and John Slick (Jr., River
Falls, Wis.) will also be players to watch. Erik Anderson (So.,
Arden Hills, Minn.) and Kirk Darling (So., Portage, Mich.) quickly
developed into solid catchers and this season, Jay Slick (Fr.,
River Falls, Wis.) joins the mix, looking to make up the other half
Around the horn, Bob Tokar (Jr., Elk River, Minn.) emerged as Bethel's everyday first baseman last season, but the biggest hole Bethel will have to fill is the vacancy left by All-MIAC third baseman Brandon Carr. Several players will vie for the starting job at the hot corner, including Bjorn Anderson (Jr., Arden Hills, Minn.) and newcomer Pete Anderson (Sr., Bloomington, Minn.). Tim Churchill (Jr., Mt. Prospect, Ill.) returns as Bethel's starting shortstop, but second base has a trio of candidates competing to start. Dusty Littlefield (Sr., Rockford, Minn.) and Mark Therrien (Jr., Spring Lake Park, Minn.) are veterans who will be joined by newcomer Sean Bethke (Fr., Mahtomedi, Minn.). In the outfield, the Royals have good speed and athleticism led by Sean Flaherty (Jr., Shoreview, Minn.),a Rob Lang (Jr., Johnston, Iowa), and Tim Oesterlin (Jr., Rochester, Minn.), as well as John Slick.
Overall, there is a renewed spirit of determination among both the players and the staff to reach team and individual goals and set the bar higher for the program in order to be associated as a top team in a competitive conference.
Coach: Aaron Rushing (5th season)
2008 Finish: 11th (2-18 MIAC, 10-27 overall)
|Carleton Season Preview|
For the first time since rejoining the MIAC in 1984, the Knights
return a pair of All-MIAC players, seniors Ethan Guevin and Jay
Melson, who lead the most experienced and deepest team Carleton has
had in years.
Coach: Bucky Burgau (31st season)
2008 Finish: Tied 6th (10-10 MIAC, 18-14 overall)
|Concordia Season Preview|
Concordia head coach Bucky Burgau has been eagerly anticipating the 2009 season for the past 24 months. The reason for Burgau’s optimism is a group of seniors led by an All-American candidate and a pitching staff that is the deepest it has been in several years. Burgau will be hoping that the experience, potentially explosive offense and the deep pitching will bring the Cobbers back to the MIAC playoffs for the first time since the 2005 season.
Concordia has a pair of returning All-Region players. Senior catcher Kyle Johnson (Cambridge, Minn./Cambridge-Isanti HS) and junior pitcher Adam Johnson (Pelican Rapids, Minn.) were named to the ABCA/Rawlings All-Midwest Region Team last season. Both players had tremendous seasons in 2008 and will need to duplicate their success in order for the Cobbers to reach their goals. Kyle Johnson led the team in hitting for the second straight season with a career-high .450 average. He also led the MIAC in hitting (.507), slugging percentage (.881), RBI's (24), home runs (5) and total bases (59).
Adam Johnson led the team in ERA (2.43) and was tied for the team lead in wins (5). He appeared in 10 games in 2008 and made a team-high seven starts on the year. He was credited with the win in the Cobbers' upset victory over NCAA Division I NDSU on Apr. 29. Johnson was 3-1 in MIAC play and gave up only five earned runs in 20.1 innings of work. He was second in the MIAC in ERA in conference games (2.21) and led the conference in opponent's batting average (.151).
The Cobbers will be far from a two-man gang as they return seven starting players from last year’s squad that finished the year by winning four straight games. Junior Jake Krause (Moorhead, Minn.) will be the team’s leadoff hitter and starting shortstop. He hit .301 and led the team in steals. Joining Krause and Kyle Johnson at the top of the order should be Nick Lewis (Jr., Fergus Falls, Minn.), Dan Wackler (So., Buffalo, Minn.) and Scott Schumacher (Sr., Thompson,N.D.). Schumacher hit .402 last season while Lewis knocked out a .394 average.
On the mound Adam Johnson will have plenty of help. All five of the Cobber pitchers that started at least five games last season return for the 2009 campaign. Schumacher pulls double duty and was second on the team in ERA with a 2.88 mark. He was 5-1 last year and allowed only 11 walks in 34.1 innings pitched. Joining Johnson and Schumacher in the starting rotation will be Andrew Skow-Anderson (So., Pelican Rapids, Minn.), Eddie Massee (Jr., Appleton, Minn./Lac Qui Parle Valley HS) and Jake Torrison (Plymouth, Minn./Wayzata HS).
The bullpen will also have a wealth of returning players. All told, the Cobbers have 10 of the 11 pitchers that posted stats in 2008 back for 2009. The relief corps will feature hard-throwing senior Nick Petro (Alexandria, Minn.) who led the team in saves in 2008 and struck out 16 in 16.2 innings of work.
If all the pieces fall into place for the 2009 Cobber baseball team then a return to the playoffs and a shot at a top three league finish is well within their reach.
Coach: Mike Carroll (13th season)
2008 Finish: Tied 3rd (12-8 MIAC, 21-18 overall)
|Gustavus Season Preview|
The 2009 Gustavus Adolphus baseball team again looks to contend for the MIAC title with solid defense and pitching after tying for third in the league last season with a 12-8 record. Head Coach Mike Carroll will need to replace all-conference first baseman Pat Siering and veteran catcher Shea Roehrkasse, but feels the great clubhouse atmosphere and depth will help the Gusties make a run at the league championship.
The infield returns veteran shortstop Mike DesLauriers (Sr., Minnetonka, Minn.) and second baseman Nate Ruff (Sr., Bloomington, Minn.). DesLauriers moved into the leadoff spot midway through the season en route to finishing second on the team with a .358 batting average, while Ruff posted a .971 fielding percentage and hit .277. Junior Tory Herman (Shoreview, Minn.) stepped in at third base last year and posted a .262 batting average. The biggest question for Gustavus is who will replace first baseman Pat Siering and catcher Shea Roehrkasse. Top candidates for the opening at first base are juniors Eric Bigham (Robbinsdale, Minn.) and Alan Woitas (Sleepy Eye, Minn.), while sophomore transfer Matt Morgan (Minnetrista, Minn.) and Mitch Johnson (So., Hopkins, Minn.) are vying for the starting catcher job.
The outfield returns two starters including junior rightfielder Spencer Campion (Plymouth, Minn.) and junior centerfielder Andrew Woitas (Sleepy Eye, Minn.). Both players saw regular time last year as Woitas had a batting average of .232 and Campion hit .179. Sophomores Brandon Boyd (Hastings, Minn.), Greg Lane (Chaska, Minn.), and Cody Sukalski (Blue Earth, Minn.) will also compete for outfield spots, as the positions will go to the players who can perform in the field and at the dish.
Coach Carroll feels he has a strong five-man pitching rotation with right-hander Adam Bren (Jr., Chatfield, Minn.) leading the way. Bren was third among MIAC pitchers holding opposing league hitters to a .200 batting average, while recording a 2.95 ERA despite a 1-4 record. The probable starting rotation is rounded out by Brandon Knoll (Sr., Princeton, Minn.), who was 0-2 in five starts a year ago, Derek Eddie (Jr., Owatonna, Minn.), who posted a record of 2-1 in three starts, Sukalski, who posted a record of 3-3 in eight starts, and Herman, who saw limited pitching time. Ryan Michaelis (Jr., Big Lake, Minn.) returns to the bullpen for the Gusties after emerging as the top relief pitcher last season with a 3.10 ERA in 16 appearances.
Coach: Jason Verdugo (8th season)
2008 Finish: Tied 3rd (12-8 MIAC, 23-18 overall)
|Hamline Season Preview|
Hamline University head coach Jason Verdugo returns a decorated
senior shortstop to his line-up, but sees a question mark on the
mound with just one returning starter, as the Pipers prepare for
the 2009 season.
Coach: Matt Parrington (10th season)
2008 Finish: 9th (7-13 MIAC, 14-23 overall)
|Macalester Season Preview|
The Scots are back on campus this season, practicing in the winter at the new Leonard Center and playing their home games this spring at their cozy new baseball field, and are eager to make a move up in the MIAC standings under 10th-year head coach Matt Parrington.
A couple big reasons for optimism is the return of a pair of ABCA / Rawlings All-Midwest region and All-MIAC standouts in third baseman Devin English (Jr., Annapolis, Md. / DeMatha) and ace pitcher James Murrey (Jr., Western Springs, Ill./ Lyons Township).
English, who was Macalester's Offensive and Defensive MVP, batted .354 from his leadoff spot in the order and led the team in runs (37), RBI (27), doubles (11) home runs (4) and slugging percentage (.531). Murrey, a two-time all-conference pitcher, posted a 7-2 record with a 2.29 ERA. He fanned 60 batters in 55 innings and ranked second in the conference in strikeouts for the second year in a row. Opponents batted just .216 against him and he has more strikeouts than innings pitched in his two-year Macalester career.
The strength of the team’s lineup is the left side of the infield, where English and shortstop Nate Wilson-Traisman (Jr. Eugene, Ore. / South Eugene) are back for two more years. Wilson-Traisman was the team’s leading batsman in ’08 with a .364 average while driving 21 runs and scoring 22, and receiving honorable mention all-conference honors. Wilson-Traisman had a .505 slugging percentage and .474 on-base percentage, and his career batting average at Mac is .335.
Outfielder Michael Kennedy (Jr., Chicago, Ill. / Northside Prep) batted .333 with a .480 slugging percentage and .444 on-base mark, and infielder/outfielder Jason Friedman (Jr., New York, N.Y. / The Browning School) also returns to the lineup. Newcomer Mitch Glasser (Fy., Chicago, Ill. / Latin School) should have an immediate impact in the infield. Robert Engel (Jr., Sunnyvale, Calif. / St. Lawrence) pitched in seven games and in 63 at-bats, hit .286.
Outfielders Will Chen (So., Edina, Minn.) Bobby De Meulenaere (So., Elk Grove Village, Ill. / Elk Grove) batted .261 and .275, respectively, as rookies.
After an injury-plagued freshman campaign, pitcher Eric Robinson (Jr., San Francisco, Calif. / The Urban School) gave the Scots solid support behind Murrey in the rotation, going 2-4 in nine starts in 43 innings of mound duty. Reliever Brad Johnson (Sr., Mt. Laurel, N.J. / Lenape) had a solid season last year.
Coach: Jerry Haugen (32nd season)
2008 Finish: Tied 6th (10-10 MIAC, 16-17 overall)
|Saint John's Season Preview|
The Saint John’s University baseball team will fashion a new look in both appearance and composition in 2009.
The Johnnies’ new uniforms and retro logo are appropriate this spring, considering head coach Jerry Haugen’s versatile squad needs to replace 12 graduated seniors from a year ago. The youth movement will supply plenty of depth and new faces in the starting lineup as six of the graduated regulars will likely be replaced by underclassmen in ’09.
The Johnnies missed the MIAC tournament by two games to finish tied for sixth in the MIAC with a 10-10 record and a 16-17 overall record in 2008. The top four squads in the 11-team MIAC make the annual postseason tournament.
The Johnnies also return juniors Andrew Gurbada (Royalton, Minn.) and Matt Magnan (Prescott, Wis.), and sophomore Aaron Traut (St. Cloud, Minn./Rocori). Gurbada started in 15 games for the Johnnies and ended the season with a .293 batting average, while Magnan and Traut combined for a .538 batting average and seven RBI in 12 games last spring.
Freshman outfielders Matt Boys (Eden Prairie, Minn./Minnetonka), Jimmy Loonan (Waseca, Minn.), Andrew Rotschafer (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Luke Sweeter (Sartell, Minn./Sartell-St. Stephen) and Hayden Zimmerman (New Richmond, Wis.) will all see time in the outfield for the Johnnies.
The Johnnies need to replace two graduated seniors, Chace Pollock and Brandon Wolf. Last season, Pollock started all 33 games in center field and finished the season with a .295 batting average. Pollock tied for the team lead with three triples and finished second on the team in hits (33), RBI (20) and stolen bases (five). Wolf tied for third on the team in RBI (19) and contributed 23 hits with a .434 slugging percentage for SJU.
SJU has three holes to fill in its infield with the graduation of shortstop John Heinbigner, second baseman Ryan Sufka and third baseman Matt Meyer. Heinbigner was named to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District Five third team, NCAA Division III All-Midwest Region third team and received All-MIAC first-team honors. Heinbigner ended the 2008 season with a seven-game hitting streak, in addition to reaching safely in each of his final 16 games and led the Johnnies in batting average (.358) and hits (38). Sufka finished with a .294 batting average and led the MIAC in walks with 23. Meyer tied for third on the team in with 19 RBI and batted .301 in 2008.
Senior first baseman Mike Krempa (Burnsville, Minn. /Holy Angels) will look to bring experience and leadership to the 2009 team. Krempa started 23 games for the Johnnies last season and finished with a .290 batting average and a .507 slugging percentage. He recorded five doubles, two triples and a home run on the season. Krempa will likely see time as the designated hitter when sophomore Kyle Henkemeyer (Sauk Rapids, Minn./Sauk Rapids-Rice) is playing first. Henkemeyer batted .288 with a team-leading 21 RBI as a freshman last season.
Junior Mitch Faust (Plymouth, Minn./Wayzata) is penciled in as the starter at second base after batting .364 in 13 games for the Johnnies. When not in the outfield, Eiden could see time at second. Sophomores Brett Kramer (Baxter, Minn./Brainerd), Jack Ries (Shoreview, Minn./Totino-Grace) and Eric Smith (Rogers, Minn.) will also be in the mix at second.
Senior Case Paxton (Brooklyn Park, Minn./Osseo) is the probable starter at third base for the Johnnies in 2009. When Paxton takes the mound, expect either sophomore Matt Butorac (Maple Grove, Minn.), junior Michael Carr (St. Cloud, Minn./Apollo) or freshman Bert Marsnik (Annandale, Minn.) to take over at the hot corner. A trio of sophomores in Butorac, Andrew Hengel (Bemidji, Minn.) and Jordan Warren (Goodhue, Minn.) will battle for time at shortstop this spring. Butorac batted .375 in five games last spring.
Sophomore Brian Skluzacek (Cold Spring, Minn./Rocori) returns behind the plate after batting .288 with five doubles, two triples and a home run in 25 games last spring. Krempa, junior Aaron Hellem (Lincoln, Neb./Pius X) and freshmen Ben Kelsey (Savage, Minn./Holy Angels), Boys or Sweeter could also see time at catcher this season.
The Johnnies’ pitching staff will face the challenge of replacing graduated seniors Adam Johnson, T.J. Nelson and Dusty Wilfahrt. The trio combined for a 9-9 record in 123.2 innings and over half of the team’s strikeouts.
Returning to the starting rotation for the Johnnies will be juniors Andrew Aebly (Madison, Wis./Edgewood) and Matt Johnson (Eagan, Minn.). In 19.2 innings, Aebly went 2-2 with a 5.49 ERA. Johnson pitched 29.1 innings for the Johnnies and finished with a 3.68 ERA and 19 strikeouts. Junior Cody Fruin (Cottonwood, Minn./Lakeview), who recorded one win in two starts, should also see time on the mound for SJU.
Sophomore Brett Kramer (Baxter, Minn./Brainerd) posted a 3.18 ERA in 5.2 innings of relief as a freshman last season, but may make the jump to the starting rotation this spring. Sophomore Dan Beste (Freeport, Minn./Melrose Area) and freshman Ben Englund (Shorewood, Minn./Minnetonka), both lefties, will also see time on the mound this spring. Ries and Zimmerman will also contend for innings this season.
The Johnnies return a pair of senior relief pitchers in Paxton
and Alex Wahl (Plymouth, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret's). Paxton made
10 appearances for the Johnnies in 2008 and boasts a 5-2 career
record with five saves and a 3.46 ERA. Wahl enters this season with
a 3-1 career record in 19 appearances with a 4.70 ERA.
Head coach Jerry Haugen, SJU class of 1976, begins his 32nd season as the Johnnies head coach. Haugen currently holds an overall record of 584-499-5 (.539), which places him in the top 25 on the NCAA Division III winningest active coaches list. Under Haugen, the Johnnies have had 15 winning seasons in the last 19 years.
Coach: Nick Winecke (1st season)
2008 Finish: 10th (4-16 MIAC, 8-23 overall)
|Saint Mary's Season Preview|
The head coach’s first name is the same. In fact, their
last name starts with the same letter, too.
Coach: Matt McDonald (15th season)
2008 Finish: 2nd (16-4 MIAC, 28-12 overall)
|St. Olaf Season Preview|
The 2009 St. Olaf College baseball team will ride the arms of an experienced pitching staff, solid returning bats in the lineup and a traditionally good-fielding defense in its quest to win an MIAC Championship.
St. Olaf won the 2007 title before finishing second in 2008. In the 14 seasons under head coach Matt McDonald the Oles have won four league championships, finished third or better every season since 1996, have won 30 or more games three times and at least 20 games each season.
The Oles, who finished two games behind St. Thomas for the 2008 league crown, have key pitchers back in the rotation this spring led by two-time all-region and three-time All-MIAC pick Todd Mathison.
Mathison was the conference's co-player of the year last spring after going 6-2 on the mound and hitting a career-best .393 in 124 plate appearances. Mathison has astonishing numbers on the mound in his tenure – 21-2 with a 1.84 ERA and six saves – in three seasons.
Also back in the rotation is Alex Sommer, who was third on the team in appearances and innings in 2008. His 5-4 record in seven starts was complimented by a pair of saves in 43 1/3 innings.
As a first year last spring, Brandon Agneberg became one of the team's go-to guys on the mound. He worked 35 innings, going 3-2 with a 2.83 ERA. He collected 28 strikeouts while limiting opponents to ten walks and three extra base hits – all doubles.
Alex Beckman was the Oles' most reliable and used man in the bullpen in 2008. He led the team in appearances (15) and had decent numbers –
3.98 ERA in 20 1/3 innings with only six walks.
Four other returners – senior first baseman Tyler Johnson, Wes Olson, Matt Neuger and Erik Olson – also saw innings and could see the more this spring.
The St. Olaf outfield will be paced by junior brothers Carson and Tyler Jones. Carson has started and played in all but two games in his first two seasons, hitting .369 as a first year and .361 last year with 11 doubles, four triples and 31 RBI. Tyler emerged as one of the team's best offensive threats in his first season of extended action, last year, hitting .396 and matching Carson's 31 RBI. The duo has alternated on the All-Midwest region teams as Carson was a third team pick in 2007 before Tyler earned the same honor last spring.
Junior Sam Baltes returns to the outfield as well after a standout first season of playing time. He hit .379 with ten doubles and three homers last season.
Nick Fuerst returns to third base after a remarkable junior season. Fuerst won the third base job early in the season and went on to hit.449 in 26 games. His 13 doubles and .652 slugging percentage led the squad.
Johnson, who hit .305 with a team-high four homers in 2008, will be the first option at first base.
The middle infield, at least in the early stages of the season,
will be up in the air. Mathison, who has played short and third
base, could also play some at second to make room for someone else
to play short.
Senior Justin Tobias, sophomore Sean Dube, the versatile Tyler Jones or a first year could find their way into the lineup as a middle infielder.
Catcher Pat Wadzinski, who is expected to return behind the dish, had his best offensive season in 2008. The senior backstop was a tough out, hitting .352 with 21 walks against only six strikeouts in over 130 plate appearances.
Tyler Jones could spell Wadzinski in an effort to get another outfielder into the lineup as well.
Coach: Dennis Denning (15th season)
2008 Finish: 1st (18-2 MIAC, 34-9 overall)
|St. Thomas Season Preview|
St. Thomas came into the 2009 season with a No. 22 national
ranking. The Tommies split two early March doubleheaders with
ranked teams with No. 14-rated St. Scholastica and No. 3-rated
UW-Whitewater. They will play 11 games in Florida, March 21-26.