Archive for the 'Baseball Media Coverage' Category

Northern Sun Baseball Hits 100,000 Page Views

100000 Views

Sometime this morning, the Northern Sun Baseball blog hit 100,000 page views over the life of the blog!  One of my main goals for this year was to reach this milestone which only a tiny percentage of blogs ever reach.

As you can see, there have been 1,647 comments – I certainly have appreciated the community of like minded baseball fans who have greatly contributed to the success of this blog.

While the future of Northern Sun Baseball is up in the air, it’s been an enjoyable 15 months. In addition, I’ve expanded my own skills as I learned a ton about creating content and using different technology tools in this “new media” age that we live in.

Thank You Readers!!

Southwest Minnesota State – 2010 Preview

SW MN State

Today I continue with my series looking at the top teams in the Northern Sun Conference by previewing Southwest Minnesota State.  I chose them because they were the first school to post their roster and schedule for the year so it’s in deference to the fine job they’re doing at publishing information about the team.  I look back at their results in 2009, key roster transitions and what 2010 might hold for the team.

Southwest Minnesota State 2009 Results

Once again, I pull out the 2009 coaches poll to show how wrong they were about the success that the Mustangs would have in 2009.  Northern Sun coaches predicted a 7th place finish for the team –

Instead, the team finished with a 16-10 record in the NSIC (28-15 overall) and a solid 4th place finish in the the regular season to propel them into the Northern Sun Conference Postseason Tournament. 

What To Ask Coaches?

In January & February I hope to interview a number of Northern Sun Conference coaches to ask them about the upcoming 2010 college baseball season along with topics regarding the state of NCAA Division 2 baseball.

The comments section at this blog have never been more active.  I’ve already started a list of questions that I want to ask but I’m giving readers a chance to chime in as well.  So, with that in mind, what questions do you have that you think would be interesting and informative to ask the coaches?

Stories From Around NCAA College Baseball

banner_baseball

Time to catch up on stories from around NCAA college baseball as school approaches. 

  • As a follow up to my last story about the NCAA banning composite bats (NCAA Rule Changes) the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP) did approve the plan to put a temporary ban on composite bats – PROP Approves Action on Composite Bats
  • I wrote some last year about the demise of college baseball at D1 schools Vermont and Northern Iowa.  In fact, colleges across the country have eliminated 227 different sports teams in the past 3 years.  This summer, the University of Wisconsin La Crosse made a similar threat to shut down their D3 baseball program.  Fortunately, the school allowed boosters to fund raise the $50k needed to save the program for now which has happened.  You can read about the effort and publicity that saved UWL baseball here – Save UW La Crosse Baseball Site
  • Something I missed back during the D2 College World Series was this blog by a Dowling pitcher about his experience during the event.  It is quite well written – “This morning was truly an awakening of the senses, as it was surely the first and best day of all our baseball careers to date.”  You can find it here – A Pitcher’s Perspective
  • Finally, I saw this interesting piece from the Collegebaseball360 Blog.  As the father of a pitcher and a youth baseball coach I’ve long been concerned about pitch counts.  Many of you may have heard about the 25 inning D1 playoff game between Texas and Boston College – Texas closer Austin Wood received a lot of well deserved national attention for his 13 inning effort in the Longhorn’s 25-inning win over Boston College in the Austin Regional. However, Wood was not the same after that outing that saw him throw nearly 140 pitches. In his two combined Regional outings Wood totaled 15.0 IP with 2 hits, 4 BB, 17 strikeouts and no runs allowed. However, in his six appearances after the famed 13-inning outing here are the lefty’s numbers: 11 IP, 16 hits, 10 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, with a 6.54 ERA. Wood made his nation-leading 41st appearance of the season when he toed the rubber for the last time in the final game of the CWS vs. LSU.  CWS – Before & After.  Boyd’s World Website does a good job of calling out schools that abuse pitchers here – D1 Pitch Count Watch

NCAA Sticks It To D1 Baseball’s Northern Teams

NCAA Baseball Logo

Two weeks ago I wrote about how the NCAA Division 1 Legislative Council was considering 2 proposals that could have a bearing on Division 1 college baseball (NCAA Considers D1 Proposals) –

  • 2008-46 – Would add a 14th week to the college baseball season (front end or back end)

  • 2008-48 – Would reduce the number of allowable baseball games from 56 to 52

    It is being reported that the NCAA is going to go forward with adding a 14th week to the season.  The bad news for all Northern Teams?  They’ve gone ahead and bowed down to the Southern schools and are adding the week to the beginning of the season.  NCAA Set To Add Week To Schedule

    This is a huge deal because it forces Northern schools into another week of travel and expense if they want to play a full slate of games against quality competition which allows them to get better consideration for post-season play.  It basically is a total cop out to the big Southern schools who have most of the power in NCAA D1 college baseball and makes it that much harder for Northern schools to compete (athletically and financially). 

    Big Ten Hardball had an excellent commentary on this subject and I urge anyone interested in the topic to read it – Big Ten Hardball – NCAA Adds Week

    We’ve already seen programs in Northern Iowa and UMass call it quits for their D1 baseball programs this year.  Could more follow and make college baseball even more of a regional sport?

  • News From Around College Baseball – 4/2/09

    Fungos and Ball

    There are a number of stories this week in the blogosphere about Division 2 college baseball and upper Midwest baseball happenings that I wanted to highlight –

    • The NCAA publishes a weekly update about D2 baseball which highlights some great individual performances from the previous week or important games between top teams.  One of those players profiled this week was University of Indianapolis pitcher Cory White who struck out a school record 15 batters in a 7 inning game in leading his team to a 3-1 victory over Lewis University (a team that’s played against both Winona State and Upper Iowa this season).  NCAA D2 Notebook
    • Speaking of the NCAA, they are currently running a 3 part series called “A Shoppers Guide to Division 2” which discusses the fiscal impact of Division II athletic membership along with the costs/benefits of college sports at the Division 2 level.  The 2nd installment discusses “ticker envy” and prudent fiscal management while the final piece is about how one school’s attempt to live the D1 philosophy led it back to choose Division II instead.  It’s an interesting read, especially in light of the economic climate that has led to some schools dropping D1 baseball like Vermont and Northern Iowa recently decided to do.  Shoppers Guide to D2 – part 1   Shoppers Guide to D2 – part 2  Shoppers Guide to D2 – part 3
    • Back on March 15th I commented about the record setting win by Southwest Minnesota State in beating Minnesota Duluth 34-1 (Mustangs Beat Bulldogs 34-1).  That was nothing compared to the whooping that D1 school Eastern Kentucky laid on D2 school Kentucky State.  The final score in that contest was 49-1.  Kentucky State actually led 1-0 after the top of the first inning and then gave up 22 runs in the bottom of the inning.  Oh yeah, the game only lasted 5 innings!  Eastern Kentucky Hammers Kentucky State 49-1
    • Finally, I’ll be following Minnesota High School baseball this spring as well.  Minnesota is the primary recruiting grounds for a lot of Northern Sun Conference schools.  In fact, of the 33 high school seniors who signed National Letters of Intent with NSIC teams in the fall early signing period, 24 of them were from Minnesota.  Today was scheduled to be opening day for many teams but a lot of games are already being pushed back.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune had a preview of the Lake Conference, Minnesota’s premier baseball/athletic conference, in yesterday’s paper.  The article doesn’t really cover enough ground as it only covers 3 teams, but it does mention 2 future NSIC pitchers (Wallace & Kilber).  Star Tribune Lake Conference Preview

    College Baseball News of Note

    Night Gathering

    Here are some of the college baseball stories that have caught my eye over recent days that I thought you might like to take a look at –

    • As reported back in late February, the University of Northern Iowa announced that they were dropping college baseball (UNI Drops Baseball).  Now the University is holding out hope that they can fund raise enough donations to keep the program alive.  They are looking to raise $1.2 Million dollars in pledges by April 5th in order to save baseball which has been played at the school for the past 103 years.  You can view their progress or make a donation here – Support UNI Baseball
    • Rivals does a very good job of covering college baseball.  They recently published their Top 100 High School Prospects.  It’s interesting that all but 1 of them is already committed to a school for next year (of course this is before MLB could draft and sign them).  I was struck by how few of the Top 100 came from northern schools.  I counted 1 kid each from IL, IA, MI, KS and IN but the rest of them all come from the south.  It’s no wonder that northern schools struggle to compete as both the weather and talent pool gives the south a decided advantage.  Rivals Top 100 High School Prospects
    • The Minnesota High School baseball season kicks off in 2 short weeks.  A large number of Northern Sun players come out of Minnesota so it’s worth keeping track of the top teams.  The MN Coaches Association has published their pre-season rankings for 2009.  Minnesota Preseason High School Rankings

    D2’s St. Augustine – 1 Doubleheader, 2 No-Hitters

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    St. Augustine College of Cary, NC made big news in college baseball yesterday as the Falcons won both ends of a doubleheader with no-hitters!

    The Falcons squared off against a Division 3 team, Lincoln University, and won 10-1 and 25-2.  Lincoln’s only runs came on a couple walks and infield ground out that scored a run in game 1 and a couple free passes along with a couple errors in the 2nd game. 

    Now admittedly, Lincoln is not very good.  The team is 0-9 on the season and finished last year 1-22-1.  The Falcon’s had 20 stolen bases on the day to give you an idea of the difference in play between the teams.  Even with these impressive wins, St. Augustine only improved their record to 4-8 on the season.

    That said, it seems like this is a pretty exceptional feat no matter what the level of competition.  The only other reference to this happening I could find was in reference to a community college team – 3 No-hitters in 2 days  I hardly think that counts as the same.

    Here are some of the stories on the accomplishment –

    Player of the Week Rant – Further Follow-up

    Players Of The Week

    Yesterday I wrote a piece on this blog announcing the Northern Sun Conference Players of the Week and arguing that 2 players from Concordia shouldn’t have been selected.  NSIC Players of the Week – Prepare for Rant

    The piece generated more interest and comments than any other that I’ve done in the blogs short existence.  Based upon some of the Comments I decided to take this one step further and call Nick Kornder, Assistant Commissioner for Media Relations at the Northern Sun Conference office for details on the selections made yesterday.

    1. How are Players of the Week selected?

    Each schools Sports Information Director nominates a player and pitcher by 10am on Monday.  The nominations are then reviewed by a 3 person team of the NSIC Commissioner, NSIC Associate Commissioner and Nick to make a selection based on their accomplishments.

    2. Why aren’t coaches involved in the selection process?

    Mainly because of the timing involved.  It would be to difficult to get responses from the coaches in the short window of time they need to get the selections completed.  Also, no coaches have ever brought it up.  They have talked about it at the league office but have decided it wouldn’t work because of the timing.

    3. Why did you choose to pick 2 players from the same school?

    They try not to pick 2 from the same team but it really is determined by the superlatives of the players nominated.

    4. How much is caliber of the competition considered (for example, St. John’s)?

    Sometimes they look at that, especially when they are considering players with similar stats.  It’s easier to do when they get into Conference play and the Conference office is more familiar with the teams involved.

    __

    The Northern Sun Baseball Blog would like to thank Nick Kornder for his time in answering my inquiry.

    That said, I stand by my rant from yesterday.  If the Conference “tries not to pick 2 from the same team” and “does consider competition” then there was really no reason to pick 2 players from the same team this week.  There were plenty of other worthy candidates that played better competition.

    Division 1 College Baseball Season Starts Today

    Fresno State 2008

    While this blog focuses on Division 2 college baseball, it’s hard to ignore the big boys kicking off their season.  There is still plenty of buzz surrounding last year’s champion, Fresno State, and their improbable run from a team that barely made the Tournament to winning it all.

    The following resources should get you prepared for what promises to be another great season –

    • This Sports Illustrated article gives a bit of a recap on Fresno State’s run to the championship last year and a preview of 2009 – Road to Omaha Begins Friday
    • College Baseball Insider has spent the last couple weeks compiling reports from coaches and their own analysis to preview all of the conferences in Division 1 with an emphasis on the best players to watch – College Baseball Insider – Conference Previews
    • ESPN has a good human interest story about Louisville’s Chris Dominguez who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 5th round of the MLB draft but turned them down to return to the Cardinal’s for his Junior season – Dominguez Looks to Repeat Success
    • Rivals is definitely one of the best sites for college baseball news but the one article that caught my eye the most was their attempt to project all 64 teams that they expect to make the NCAA Tournament – Rivals 64 – Preseason Regional Projections 
    • Finally, while Rivals has a good weekend preview too, I’d point you to a really great weekend preview from Baseball America.  They point out where all of the Top 25 are playing as well as other in-depth information.  Their spotlight match-up this weekend is between TCU and Cal-State Fullerton – Baseball America – Weekend Preview

    While I try not to show my biases too much, any of you that like to follow the Minnesota Gophers may want to check out their season preview – Gopher Preview or about them kicking off their season today against Seton Hall as a part of the Big Ten/Big East Challenge – Minnesota Kicks off Season

    College Baseball Miscellaneous

    Stepping Into Box

    Later today I’ll be publishing the Northern Sun Players of the Week as well as the 5th in my series of interviews with Northern Sun Conference head coaches.  For the time being, I would point you to the following items of interest –

    • Ping!Baseball normally publishes their Division 2 National Rankings on Monday but delayed it a day with the President’s Day holiday.  Their rankings are quite different than the ones from College Baseball News CBN Feb 16 rankings.  Southern Arkansas is atop the Ping rankings followed by Ouachita Baptist and Central Missouri.  Lynn, who was ranked #1 in the CBN poll, is ranked #5 by Ping.  Mesa State, a team we have interest in watching, is ranked #5 by CBN but #16 by Ping and there are no teams in the Northern Sun Conference that make Ping’s Top 30 – Ping!Baseball – Top 30
    • As a part of our series with Northern Sun head coaches we got to hear from Minnesota State coach Matt Magers yesterday – Matt Magers Interview.  Today the Mankato Free Press newspaper came out with their season preview article on the Mavericks which focuses on senior second baseman Jay Bresnahan, one of the leaders on a team that is expected to compete for a conference title – Bresnahan Poised To Lead Mavericks
    • Finally, the college baseball Division 1 season is about to kick off and Rivals has published their pre-season All-American team.  For those that are interested in following players that have a good chance to be drafted high and have the potential to have an impact in Major League Baseball someday, these would be names to keep an eye on – Division 1 Preseason All-American Team

    Northern Sun Coach Survey – Matt Magers

    Minnesota State

    This is my 4th entry in my series of questionnaire responses I received from coaches in the Northern Sun Conference.

    Matt Magers is entering his first year as head coach of the Minnesota State Mavericks.  He had been the pitching coach for the team since 2001 and was named Associate Head Coach by previous coach, Dean Bowyer, in 2007.  Similar to my previous interview with Mark Gulseth (Northern State), Magers comes from a distinguished career on the diamond as he was named All-Conference 3 times while playing for South Dakota State as a pitcher, was drafted by the Cubs in the 16th round of the 1997 MLB draft and played 2+ seasons in the Cubs minor league system.  Matt Magers Bio  The team has also posted an in depth Q&A with the new coach on their website –  Q&A with Matt Magers

    I caught up with Matt just after he came off a strenuous teaching session of the Bowling class he teaches at Minnesota State –

    1. In what area(s) are you looking for your team to make the biggest improvement over 2008?

    We’re looking to become more consistent this year. Last year we started the season 0-6 and still were able to finish 28-25 along with making an NCAA Regional appearance. We only lost 3 seniors from last years team and have 8 this year so I would look for the seniors to lead this team since they have the experience and have been through the big games before. 

    2. What newcomers to your team look like they will make the biggest impact?

    We expect transfers junior left-handed pitcher Josh Castanza, Hillsborough CC, junior right-handed pitcher Brett Fratzke, College of the Sequoias , and junior outfielder Mark Moriarty, Cerro Cosso CC, to give us depth throughout the season. We also look for freshman right-handed pitcher/third baseman Ben Kincaid, Eau Claire WI, right-handed pitcher Blake Schwartz, Rosemount MN, and second basemen Lucas Skjefte, Eden Prairie MN, to contribute right away.

    3. What’s your philosophy regarding recruiting out of high school vs. college transfers?

    Recruiting both a high school and transfer player has its pro’s and con’s. It’s appealing to have a player for 4 years that you can develop however certain years we look to pick up a transfer where a hole was left due to graduation or injury. I don’t think you can solely rely on having all of one or the other, it needs to be a good mix.

    4. What Northern Sun team do you consider to be your schools biggest rival?

    I would consider St. Cloud State to be our biggest rival. We have played them since we were both members of the NCC and have had some good battles together. We are excited to join the Northern Sun Conference as the majority of these teams we have played in the past and have rivalries established already .

    5. Who has been the biggest influence on your coaching philosophy and/or career?

    Growing up I was fortunate to have been surrounded by many good people both on and off the field. From little league and high school ball in Gaylord, to college ball at South Dakota State University, I picked up techniques and philosophies that drove me to where I am today.  Playing professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs humbled me and gave me an opportunity to understand the business aspect of baseball. Former Maverick Head Coach Dean Bowyer has most impacted my baseball coaching career. Being around him the last nine years has been a priceless experience both on and off the field.

    The Northern Sun Baseball Blog would like to thank Matt Magers for taking time out of his schedule to answer these questions.


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