Archive for the 'Division 1 College Baseball' Category



Big Batch of College Baseball News

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Other than the exciting win by Winona State over #1 rated Lynn University, yesterday was a slow day in the Northern Sun Conference.  Therefore, I thought I’d go on the hunt for articles that may be interesting –

  • Upper Iowa (0-3) did completely cancel their series this weekend against Missouri S&T.  This makes 8 games now that they’ve lost to weather to go along with 3 lopsided losses to ranked opponents.  Not a fun start for the Peacocks who get another shot at playing games on March 11th in Topeka, KS against Washburn.  Weekend Series Cancelled 
  • There was a lot of news earlier this week about the death of head baseball coach John Baggs of St. Scholastica in Duluth.  He died of a rare form of cancer at the age of 42.  Even though he was so young he had been head coach there for 17 years and had won 12 straight UMAC baseball titles (Division 3).  Bruce Ciskie of the Duluth News wrote a nice piece about coach Baggs – Farewell, coach Baggs
  • The College Baseball Blog has a nice scoreboard listing that is updated every day.  They show the Top 30 Division 1 teams and it’s easy to spot the upsets with their color coding.  The complete scoreboard is also available at the bottom – Division 1 Top 30 Scores
  • For those interested in University of Minnesota baseball, the Gophers (4-2) beat Washington late yesterday 6-5 in 10 innings to be undefeated so far in the Dairy Queen Classic.  The team seems to be much improved from last year, at least early on in the season.  They play Hawaii today at the Metrodome to wrap up the tournament – Minnesota Defeats Washington
  • Speaking of Minnesota, Baseball America had their Division 1 weekend preview which is kind of old now.  That said, there is a nice interview at the bottom with Gopher outfielder, Eric Decker.  They call him “One of the premier athletes in the 2009 draft class” and he’s off to a great start to 2009 – Eric Decker Interview
  • Finally, if you haven’t heard the name yet, THE player to watch in all of college baseball is Stephen Strasburg.  The junior, rightie from San Diego State is projected by everyone to be the #1 ranked player in the upcoming Major League draft.  This article talks about his opening game but leaves out that in his most recent game he struck out 16 batters in just 6.2 innings.  There is some expectation that he could be in the big leagues within 1 year of being drafted.  The Washington Nationals hold the #1 pick but of course there are questions of signability.  Strasburg Shines in Opener

Northern Iowa Drops Baseball Program

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The University of Northern Iowa officially announced today that they are dropping their college baseball program effective at the end of the 2009 season.  The Panthers made the decision after projecting a large cut in their athletic department funding due to current economic conditions and cutbacks in state government funding.  Northern Iowa is a Division 1 program that plays in the Missouri Valley Conference.  A conference that is known for a strong baseball tradition.

University of Northern Iowa Official Announcement

Des Moines Register Story – AD Had Pledged to Save Program

Earlier this weekend, the University of Vermont had also had announced that they were eliminating both their baseball and softball programs due to economic conditions.  The Catamounts are also a Division 1 program.  Vermont Announces Athletic Department Reorganization

One has to wonder how long it will be before the fallout turns into a full fledged free-fall in all of college athletics.  Based upon these 2 schools, it looks like college baseball is definitely one of the more vulnerable programs where cuts will be considered.

Bemidji State Loses – Big Ten Challenge Continues

Bemidji State Beavers

As expected, the weather in the central states turned quite cold on Saturday and all the scheduled games were canceled or postponed except for one.  Bemidji State braved the mid-30’s temperature in Topeka, KS and played the 3rd game in their 4 game set against Washburn University.  Washburn came away with a decisive 9-3 victory in the 9 inning game and leads the series 2-1.  They will play the final game of the weekend today at Noon.

For those of you that are also interested in Big Ten baseball, the opening of the Division 1 season brings us the inaugural Big East – Big Ten Challenge as these northern conferences head to Florida to play each other.  The conferences are playing 24 games against each other over the 3 day weekend.  Big East – Big Ten Challenge Site

Friday saw the Big Ten jump out to a 5 game to 3 advantage as Michigan, Michigan St., Purdue, Ohio State and Northwestern won.  On Saturday, the conferences each won 4 games.  The Big Ten got wins from Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State.  Michigan is off to a strong start as the #30 ranked Wolverines are at 3-0 on the season.  St. Johns has been the most impressive Big East team with a 15-6 win over Penn State on Friday and a 18-3 win over Iowa yesterday.  The Big Ten enters Sunday’s final 8 games holding a 9-7 advantage.

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

Northern Sun – Winter Games

Snowy Field

One thing that every Northern Sun Conference baseball team has to deal with is how to play baseball games when the college baseball season starts on February 1st and your home field might not be available until late March or early April (if then).  This blog has written earlier about how many teams are using the Metrodome in Minneapolis in order to get in games – Northern Sun Teams Fill Metrodome

While that is one option, the primary way that teams deal with the weather is to head south.  This poses its own set of challenges as there’s no guarantee of playable weather in the closest locations as we saw this past weekend for Upper Iowa – Upper Iowa Games Colorado Trip Canceled

The other issue is that these trips cost a lot of money.  A large number of these trips are planned to places like Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas so that teams can take busses instead of flying.  That means 10+ hour bus rides but it does save some money for these non-revenue sports that cost their schools a lot of money to maintain.  In addition to bus trips, many of the schools do like to schedule a spring trip to a warm destination like Florida & Arizona.  This option almost guarantees a large number of games but also forces head coaches to seek out funding for the trips.  In many cases the players are asked to participate in on-campus activities, like working at off-season sporting events to raise money, or the programs hold special fund raisers – Crookston Spaghetti Dinner

The upside is that it allows these northern schools to schedule 50+ games during the season and spread out games across a more reasonable schedule.  Here is a chart showing where each of the teams in the Northern Sun Conference will be traveling to this winter/spring –

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As you can see, all but 4 of these teams will be taking what most would consider a “Spring Trip” to either Florida, Phoenix or Georgia.  Three of the teams are going to Fort Myers, FL to play in the Gene Cusick Collegiate Classic – Gene Cusick Classic Info.  Because there really aren’t that many other programs traveling during that time period, what ends up happening is that the teams end up playing each other in non-conference games.  For example, Minnesota Duluth and Southwest Minnesota State have 4 games against each other in Fort Myers.

With the current economic climate in this country one wonders if college baseball coaches will soon be making decisions about having to cut back on some of these types of trips or institute even more fund raising efforts in order to keep these types of schedules alive in the future.

Edit – After posting this article this morning I came across this timely piece in the LA Times that discusses how the economic downturn has teams in Division 1 college baseball considering changes to how they schedule in the future – Economic Downturn Could Lead to Tightening Belts

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

College Baseball Division 1 Update

In The Fieldhouse

Division 1 college programs have started getting ready for the upcoming season.  While this blog is focused on Division 2 and specifically the Northern Sun Conference it’s hard to be a fan of college baseball and not follow the big schools as well.  As they get closer to starting their seasons the following stories might be interesting if you’d like to get caught up on what to expect for the coming year.

  • USA Today has an article that talks about the controversial change that the NCAA enacted in 2008 which mandated that all Division 1 programs would use a condensed schedule reducing the regular season from 17 to 13 weeks.  This really should help the northern schools which weren’t on a level playing field because of the weather and field availability but it has caused lots of schools to make some hard decisions about scheduling to the 56 game limit.  This story describes how some teams are scheduling scrimmages in the fall to make up for lost games in the spring and how Fresno State may have benefited from this new rule to help them to a National Championship – USA Today – Condensed Baseball Schedule Article
  • Ping! Baseball has their Division 1 Preseason Top 30 rankings up which includes capsules on each of the teams.  Their pick for the number 1 team is the University of North Carolina which has made it to Omaha for the College World Series each of the last 3 years.  Ping Baseball – Top 30 Rankings
  • Baseball America has a ton of college baseball content and while it’s all excellent, the majority of it is available via a paid subscription only.  That said, they did make available their Preseason Top 25 Chat which covers a number of topics and teams – Baseball America – Top 25 Preseason Chat
  • Finally, Yahoo/Rivals has some good college baseball coverage and should be checked out on a regular basis.  There are a number of stories already posted but the one that caught my interest was about the rebirth of the baseball program at Oregon University.  They haven’t had a baseball program for 28 years but the success of the Oregon State Beavers (NCAA Champions in 2006 & 2007) may have helped revive the program.  There is a Minnesota angle as well since one of the players for the Ducks is freshman, Madison Boer, who played last year for Eden Prairie HS in Minnesota.  Oregon’s Reborn Baseball Team

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