MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The Bemidji State baseball team has been picked to finish sixth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in the league’s 2004 pre-season coaches poll, as announced late yesterday by the NSIC office.
Bemidji State, which returns a veteran roster from last season’s 15-27 campaign, picked up 38 points in the poll. Wayne State picked up four of eight first-place votes and earned 65 total points, edging Minnesota Duluth for the top spot in the pre-season ranking. Duluth picked up three first-place votes and 63 total points. Southwest Minnesota State finished third, garnering one first-place vote and 57 total points.
Concordia-St. Paul (53 points) and Winona State (52) were narrowly separated for the fourth and fifth spots in the poll. After BSU in sixth place, Northern State (35) and Minn.-Crookston (29) rounded out the poll.
Minn.-Duluth won the NSIC regular-season title in 2003 en route to its first-ever NCAA regional berth. Wayne State and Concordia-St. Paul were declared co-champions of a weather-shortened NSIC Tournament.
UMD outfielder Tim Battaglia was named NSIC Pre-Season Player of the Year, and Wayne State’s Travis McCarter earned Pitcher of the Year honors.
BSU’s Shaun Ross and Tyler Norland were listed amongst the league’s Players to Watch.
Ross, a senior utility player who will see action at catcher, first base and in the outfield in 2004, is a two-time First-Team All-NSIC pick. He has a .377 career batting average and recorded his 100th career hit in 2003. In 2003, Ross finished with a .345 batting average (38-for-110) with five home runs and 34 RBI. He rolled up a .555 slugging percentage and struck out just 10 times.
Norland was an honorable-mention All-NSIC pick in 2003 and enters the 2004 season as one of the team’s aces. He started nine games for BSU in 2003 and tied for team-high honors with two complete games. Norland finished with a 3-3 record and a 4.50 ERA in 44.0 innings pitched. He struck out 38 and walked only 11. Just 19 of the 48 hits Norland allowed a year ago went for extra bases.
Bemidji State opens its 2004 baseball campaign on March 6, when it opens a three-game series at Central Oklahoma. BSU will play a double-header against the Bronchos on March 6 and a single game on March 7. Games begin at 12:30 p.m. Central time on both days.