SMSU BASEBALL: SMSU opens up 2018 season today in Arizona

Independent file photo SMSU’s Jayden Fleck connects for a base hit during their April 2017 game against Bemidji State University. The Mustangs begin their season today in Arizona.

MARSHALL – Southwest Minnesota State University opens its 49th season of collegiate baseball this weekend with 10 games over nine days at the Tucson Invitational in Tucson, Arizona, from March 3-11.

•The games will take place at the Kino Sports Complex and will be all nine-inning games, unless noted.

•SMSU opens with a single game versus Presentation (S.D.) on Saturday, March 3, starting at 11 a.m., and then will face Ottawa University (Ariz.) later that day starting at 2:30 p.m.

•On Sunday, March 4, SMSU will face Bethany Lutheran College at 8 p.m.

•SMSU will take on St. Cloud State on Monday, March 5, in a non-conference match-up starting at 10 a.m.

•SMSU will face Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) on Tuesday, March 6, starting at 4 p.m.

•On Wednesday, March 7, SMSU takes on Concordia-St. Paul with first pitch set for 4 p.m.

•Following an off day on Thursday, March 8, SMSU returns with a doubleheader on Friday, March 9, versus Briar Cliff (Iowa) starting at 11 a.m.

•On Saturday, March 10, SMSU will take on Mount Marty (S.D.) at 8 p.m.

•SMSU closes the trip on Sunday, March 11, taking on Jamestown (N.D.) at 11 a.m.

•All game times are CENTRAL.

MEDIA COVERAGE

•Live statistics for selected games in Arizona will be available at smsumustangs.com.

•Updates can also be found by following @smsubaseball on Twitter.

SERIES HISTORY

•SMSU has never faced Presentation, Ottawa or Bethany Lutheran.

•SMSU and DWU will be meeting for the third time after splitting two games in 2010 in Mitchell, S.D.

•SCSU holds a 54-18 all-time advantage and has won 10 straight in the series since 2015. SCSU won both games last season in Tucson. SMSU’s last win came on April 11, 2015.

•CSP leads the series 30-23 and has won nine of the last 10 meetings since the 2016 season. CSP won two games last season in Tucson, before winning three of four games in NSIC play in Minnetonka.

•SMSU and Briar Cliff meet for the 10th time, but the first since 1992. Briar Cliff leads the series 5-4.

•SMSU holds a 5-4 all-time advantage versus Mount Mary and will be meeting for the first time since 1996.

•SMSU is 3-2 versus Jamestown, including winning both games last season in Tucson.

ABOUT THE

MUSTANGS

•The 2018 team features 20 returning letter winners from last season’s squad that finished 15-33 overall, including 10-28 in NSIC play.

•SMSU returns several of its top hitters from last season, including senior first baseman Shane Sellner, who is the team’s top returning hitter. Sellner batted .297 with four doubles, two home runs and a team-high 25 RBIs, while appearing in 47 games with 45 starts.

Sophomore Tanner Strommen started all 48 games during his rookie season at shortstop and batted .269 with seven doubles and seven stolen bases. Strommen, who finished third on the team with 11 multi-hit games last season, is expected to play outfield in 2018.

Junior infielder Jayden Fleck is another returning starter after playing in all 48 games last season and hitting .252 with six doubles, two triples, two home runs and 15 RBIs. He led the team in both walks (25) and hit by pitches (11) to help record a team-high .396 on-base percentage and also finished second on the team with 25 runs scored.

Senior outfielder Liam Lopez started 44 games and tied for the team-lead with three home runs, while also clubbing eight doubles.

Also returning and expected to see plenty of action this season are sophomore outfielder Ben Heichel and sophomore first baseman Brady Lanoue, who both gained valuable action last season as true freshmen. Heichel played in 25 games with 22 starts and hit .258 with a double and home run with three stolen bases. Lanoue appeared in 37 games with 29 starts and hit .255 with four doubles and 13 RBIs.

A pair of sophomore catchers return in Derek Smith and Spencer Rudnik. Smith batted .283 with four RBIs in 16 games, while making 14 starts during the last month of the season. Rudnik played in 16 games with 11 starts and had three RBIs.

The Mustang pitching staff returns 12 hurlers, including seven who combined to start 45 of 48 games last season. Junior left-hander Cole Petersen, who earned second team All-NSIC honors last season, finished 6-2 with a 1.70 ERA in team-high 53 innings. The 1.70 ERA is the second lowest in team single-season history, while limiting opponents to a .246 batting average. Junior right-hander Justin Clark made a team-high 10 starts in 2017 and recorded a 5.06 ERA in 48 innings. He tossed two complete games and led the staff with 44 strikeouts.

Sophomore righty Jeremy Stouffer finished with a 6.11 ERA in nine games last season with eight starts. He was third on the team in innings pitched with 45 2/3 with just 13 walks allowed.

Another returning veteran is senior right-hander, Chase Meyer, who pitched in 11 games with five starts, and recorded a pair of victories and a 6.25 ERA

Junior right-hander Shawn Williams will serve as one of the team’s top relief pitchers again in 2018. Last season, Williams appeared in a team-high 19 games and finished 2-2 with five saves and a 2.12 ERA. He allowed opponents to hit just .214 and struck out 18 batters in 29 2/3 innings.

Also returning in the bullpen is junior right-hander Alex Jorgensen, who made 16 combined starts in 2015 and 2016, before moving to a relief role last season. He had three saves in four appearances a season ago before suffering a season-ending injury in mid-March.

Junior relief right-handed pitchers, Jared Tschetter and Michael Revening, are both back after combining to pitch 38 2/3 innings in 21 games last season.

Newcomers to the 2018 roster include three junior college transfers and 14 combined redshirt or true freshmen.

MUSTANGS

AT HOME

•SMSU is scheduled to play a total of 11 doubleheaders at Alumni Field with the home opener set for March 17 versus Minnesota State.

NSIC SCHEDULE

•SMSU is scheduled to play a 38-game unbalanced schedule in conference play this season.

•The team will play seven four-game weekend series along with five mid-week doubleheaders.

•The schedule will allow SMSU to play 12 of 14 conference opponents at least twice this season.

•SMSU will not play Minot State or St. Cloud State in conference play.

NSIC

DOUBLEHEADERS

•For the eighth straight season the first game of each NSIC doubleheader will be a 7-inning game, while game two is scheduled for a 9-inning game.

•If the first game goes into extra innings, then game two will be changed to a 7-inning game.

SMSU PICKED 14TH IN NSIC POLL

•Southwest Minnesota State University was picked to finish 14th in the NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

•SMSU junior right-handed pitcher Justin Clark and sophomore outfielder Tranner Strommen were both named “Players to Watch” in the conference this season.

•Minnesota State was chosen as the preseason favorite earning 196 points, including 14 first place votes.

Content courtesy

of SMSU Athletic

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