Archive for the 'College Baseball' Category



Minnesota State – 2010 Preview

Minnesota State

Today I continue with my series looking at the top teams in the Northern Sun Conference by previewing Minnesota State.  I look back at their results in 2009, key roster transitions and make a prediction about where I expect the 2010 team will finish.

Minnesota State – 2009 Results

The Mavericks were picked to finish 2nd in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in 2009 and that’s exactly where they finished.  They ended up 1 1/2 games behind the eventual champion, Wayne State.  The team then advanced to the Northern Sun Postseason Tournament where they lost their first game before reeling off 5 straight wins to claim the automatic bid to the NCAA Central Regional (Minnesota State Wins NSIC Tourney).  The flamed out in 2 straight NCAA Tourney games but it was still a very productive year and they finished with a 38-17 record in coach Matt Magers first year as the manager.

The team ranked in the top half of most statistical categories within D2 baseball and among Northern Sun teams.  They were 4th in the league in batting, 3rd in ERA and 3rd in fielding.  One glaring weakness was their stolen bases where they ranked 2nd to last in the league.

Continue reading ‘Minnesota State – 2010 Preview’

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?

Concordia Baseball – 2010 Preview

Concordia

Today I continue with my series looking at the top teams in the Northern Sun Conference by previewing Concordia.  I look back at their results in 2009, key roster transitions and what 2010 might hold for the team.

Concordia 2009

The Golden Bears entered the 2009 season on a high.  The 2008 season had seen them finish 3rd in the Northern Sun Conference.  They then went on to win the NSIC Tournament and qualify for the NCAA Regional for the first time in school history.  Going into the season they returned a high number of their key contributors from that 2008 team including 2009 NSIC Pre-season Pitcher of the Year, Jake Schmidt and 2009 Pre-season Player of the Year, Brenden Furrow.  The feelings about them were so strong that coaches picked them to finish 3rd in the Conference where they were closer to the top place than the 4th place.

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The team started out well enough with a 15-3 non-conference record (against a relatively weak schedule) but things started to go south in their first NSIC weekend when they lost 3 of 4 to upstart Augustana.   So what went so terribly wrong for the team that left them with an 8th place Conference finish?

NCAA Division 2 College Baseball Season Just 2 Months Away

NCAA Baseball Logo

The weather is starting to get much more winter like in the upper Midwest but in reality that signals the onset of another season of NCAA Division 2 College Baseball.  For teams in the Northern Sun Conference the first games start February 4th when Concordia, Minnesota Duluth and Southwest Minnesota State all play at the Metrodome.  The official start date of NCAA Division 2 College Baseball this year is once again February 2nd.

In fact, while there’s a lull in activity around the Christmas break, teams will be starting up their practice sessions in just a little over a month as most of the players will be cutting their holiday break short to head back to campus for the official start of the practice season on January 10th:

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Upcoming Features:

Between now and the start of the season the Northern Sun Baseball Blog will be gearing up in the following ways –

  • Team Previews – Throughout December and January you will see me go into some depth on each of the contending teams in the Northern Sun Conference (not sure I’ll do them all).  My plan is to especially focus on interesting statistical factors from the 2009 season and discuss which key players are no longer on each team and how that might impact their success going into 2010.  Look for the kickoff article on Augustana in the coming week.
  • Coach Interviews – In January & February I’m hoping to hold live phone interviews with Northern Sun’s head coaches to discuss the upcoming 2010 season and broader questions about the state of Division 2 college baseball.  This will hopefully provide a better set of responses than our first set of e-mail interviews produced last February.  We’ll see how many coaches can make time for this but I know a number of them are following the blog so hopefully they can spare 15 minutes for this new segment.
  • Predictions – Right around the first anniversary of this blog (February 1st) I will issue my prognostications for the upcoming season.  Of course, that said, I did predict that Minnesota State would win the Conference last year and while they did well, I’m 0-1 in picking the top team.
  • NCAA D2 College Baseball Happenings – While my focus remains on the Northern Sun Conference I will certainly report on topics of interest all around Division 2 College Baseball.
  • New Design? – One thing I’m also considering is a new look and feel for the blog using a different WordPress template with a wider format.  Same great content – new bold look?

As is usual, I’m certainly open to feedback and suggestions from readers on content or questions they’d like to see on this blog.

Northern Sun & College Baseball Updates – Thanksgiving Edition

Okay, Thanksgiving was really yesterday but I was busy eating turkey.  Now with a day off it’s time to update a few items of interest for the Northern Sun Conference and college baseball as a whole.

A lot of the recent news in college baseball revolves around recruiting news as teams are announcing the signing of players during the NCAA’s early signing period.  Last week I posted 5 press releases from Northern Sun teams that had announced signings – Northern Sun Fall 2009 Signings

  • A couple days after that blog entry I was sent the press release from Minnesota State.  MN State Announces seven 2010-11 Signings  The school has been right up there with St. Cloud State as having some of the largest and most high profile recruiting success lately.  Zach Bohar, Ronnie Donley, Dalton Grove, Jason Hoppe, TJ Larson, Tyler Ockuly and Parker Sullivan will be suiting up for the Mavericks during the 2011 season.
  • College Baseball Insider also has done some tracking of overall Division 2 College Baseball fall signings and although they are woefully behind the announcements it’s interesting to see what other schools are adding to their rosters – Division 2 Early Signings
  • Baseball America continues to be a premier site for baseball as a whole and while the majority of their college baseball content is premium Aaron Fitt had a recent column answering Division 1 college baseball recruiting questions – College Recruiting Chat
  • In addition to following Upper Midwest D2 baseball I’ve long been a fan of the University of Minnesota (my alma mater) and their baseball team.  Kendall Rogers from Rivals just published a positive outlook about the team, although I’m a bit more skeptical after the Gophers lost 3 of their top hitters and 2 of their top pitchers.  Five Keys for Minnesota Baseball
  • Finally, I like to check the NCAA site and while this has nothing to do with college baseball, per se, I see that the Northern Sun Conference has been awarded $10,000 to potentially add new members to the Conference.  This has the potential to be something to keep track of in future years.  D2 Committee Approves Membership Grants

Northern Sun Baseball – Fall Signings Announced

Eric

The NCAA allows college baseball teams to sign players to a National Letter of Intent at 2 times during the year.  The primary time is during the late spring/summer but there is also a fall signing period which this year ran from November 11 – 18.  This is for baseball players in their senior year of high school who will begin college play for the 2010-11 school year.

The following Northern Sun Conference teams announced the signing of athletes –

  • Winona State – Announced the signing of 4 players (Tyler Smith, Tyler Zemla, Ryan Style & Michael Wasilik) including 2 players from Oak Creek, WI – Winona State Signs 4
  • Northern State – Signed a player from California (Sheldon Ekstrand) to come play in Aberdeen – Wolves Ink Ekstrand
  • Bemidji State – Had never before signed players during the early signing period during head coach Tim Bellow’s 5 years as the manager but announced that they signed 2 players this year (Zach Braun & Aaron Young) – Beavers Sign 2
  • Wayne State – Signed the first 2 players of new coach Brian Disch’s tenure and went to Minnesota and Wisconsin to find them (Ben Schaben & Brandon Lalk) – WSC Baseball Inks 2
  • St. Cloud State – Continued their pattern of strong recruiting by signing 7 players during the early signing period (Garrett Anderson, Chris Kubitz, Jordan Milbrath, Max Ditty, Matt Vold, Michael Jurgella & Eric Loxtercamp).  They’ve definitely impressed me as being among the most active recruiters in the Conference – Huskies Sign 7 to NLI’s

While it’s certainly possible that other college baseball teams in the Northern Sun Conference have signed players during the early signing period, they haven’t issued press releases at this time. 

Upper Iowa University – 2010 Baseball Schedule

Upper Iowa

Upper Iowa University has posted their baseball schedule for the upcoming 2010 baseball season – Upper Iowa 2010 Baseball Schedule

The Peacocks spend the bulk of their non-conference schedule playing in Missouri and Kansas.  They will be hoping for better weather this year as the squad had 12 non-conference games wiped out by bad weather last year.  The team doesn’t have a spring trip to a warm climate so they are more at the mercy of good spring weather.  They do have a 3 game set against Wayne State (although Wayne’s schedule shows it as 2 games) which should be a good test but the rest of the schedule is a little less taxing as none of their opponents ranked higher than #66 in last year’s Boyd’s D2 Power Rankings.

The team doesn’t have Northern Sun Conference games against Wayne State, Concordia, St. Cloud State & Northern State.  They should be in the mix again for a top 6 spot in the standings which they secured on the last day of the regular season last year.

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Wayne State – 2010 Baseball Schedule

Wayne State1

Wayne State College (NE) has posted their baseball schedule for the upcoming 2010 baseball season – Wayne State 2010 Baseball Schedule

The Wildcats open their season against instate rival Nebraska – Kearney but to play each other they are heading to Golden, CO.  Their non-conference schedule has a decidedly central US flavor to it as they play in Colorado, Kansas & a spring tourney in Indiana.  They have 2 games in late March (home and home) against D2’s 2009 National Runner-up, Emporia State.  Wayne State also has 2 non-conference sets against Northern Sun opponents, both at neutral sites (Winona State at the Metrodome and Upper Iowa in Kansas).

The 4 conference teams they avoid playing this year are Winona State, Upper Iowa, Southwest Minnesota State & Mary.  Interestingly, they show Minnesota Duluth as home games while Duluth shows them as being played in Minneapolis. 

The Wildcats are coming off of 6 straight Northern Sun Conference regular season titles and are certainly a favorite for 2010 with a strong returning senior class.  If it weren’t for a brand new head coach they’d probably be the hands down favorite to repeat again but that change at the top might give conference foes a little glimmer of hope.  Wayne State should be a heavy favorite to be among the top 2-3 teams with whomever is calling the shots.

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Northern State – 2010 Baseball Schedule

northern state

Northern State University has posted their baseball schedule for the upcoming 2010 baseball season – Northern State 2010 Baseball Schedule

The Wolves will open their season in late February with 6 games at the Metrodome against fellow Northern Sun schools, Bemidji State and Minnesota Crookston, the 2 schools closest to them in the 2009 conference standings.  One thing that stands out is that their non-conference games are against teams that match their geography and level of competition.  By playing games against the likes of Jamestown, Dickinson State, Valley City State & Dakota State they don’t have to travel as much and have a better chance to win.  The team does have a spring trip scheduled to Phoenix in early March.

During conference play the team misses out on Bemidji State, Minnesota Crookston, Winona State & Upper Iowa.  For a team that won only 1 conference game last year, it hurts to miss out on playing Crookston.

The team did also announce the names of 9 new recruits to the team – Wolves Announce 09-10 Recruits.  They better hope some of those 5 pitchers can help right away as Northern State’s conference ERA of almost 14 was painful.

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Concordia University – 2010 Baseball Schedule

Concordia

Concordia University has posted their baseball schedule for the upcoming 2010 baseball season – Concordia 2010 Baseball Schedule

The team opens its season against Northwestern Iowa College at the Metrodome on February 4th – the same day SWMS & UMD play their first game against each other there.  What strikes you immediately is the number of non-D2 opponents the Golden Bears are playing.  Their first 6 games are against 2 NAIA programs and a D2 program.  Later in March they also play D3’s UW La Crosse.  In fact, the only non-conference D2 program on the schedule right now is a home & home series with Minnesota Duluth.  The team does have a spring trip to Orlando but it’s unclear whether they are in the same Russ Matt Tourney as most of the rest of the Conference since that is technically taking place in Winter Haven, FL.

The 4 Conference teams that Concordia doesn’t play this year are Minnesota Duluth, Mary, Upper Iowa and Southwest Minnesota State.  This could be a year of transition for the Golden Bears who lost a few really good players and will have a young team.  22 of the 31 players on their roster are either sophomores or freshman.

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Minnesota Duluth – 2010 Baseball Schedule

Minnesota Duluth

The University of Minnesota Duluth has posted their baseball schedule for the upcoming 2010 baseball season – Minnesota Duluth 2010 Baseball Schedule

As I had previously reported, the team will be heading to the Russ Matt Invitational in Winter Haven, FL along with at least 5 other Northern Sun teams.  They hope to play as many as 10 games down there.  That’s a good thing as the vast majority of their other non-conference games will be played against other Northern Sun teams (12 games).  They do have 1 mid-week contest in April against Wisconsin Superior.  They open the season at the Metrodome against Southwest Minnesota State and have 8 games scheduled at the dome.

The Bulldogs face every other Northern Sun team except Augustana since they have the non-conference 4 game sets against SWMS, Mary & Concordia.  Their first conference opponent is once again Wayne State.  What’s interesting is that last year the Bulldogs were scheduled to have Wayne come to Duluth in late March but because of something called “winter” they had to move the games to Wayne, NE instead.  I had assumed that Duluth was out of luck and would have to travel there again this year but the games are listed as happening in Minneapolis (not the Metrodome).  Not sure if that means they will try to find an outdoor field in the Twin Cities which may still be difficult in late March.  This Twin Cities resident will appreciate if it really plays out this way.

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