Defending NSIC regular season Champions in 2007 and 2008, Wayne State (Neb.) was selected as 2009 preseason favorite for the sixth year in a row, as the Wildcats gathered six out of thirteen first place votes. WSC totaled 149 points while league newcomer, Minnesota State came in second with 135 points and four first place votes with the 2008 NSIC Tournament Champions, Concordia University, St. Paul holding down the third slot in the poll with 135 points and three first place votes.
Winona State earned the fourth spot with 113 points while Upper Iowa was close behind in fifth with 105 points, respectively. St. Cloud State edged Southwest Minnesota State for the sixth spot by the narrowest of margins. The Huskies garnered 102 total points while the Mustangs slid into seventh with 101 points.
Bemidji State was selected ninth (70), sandwiched between Minnesota Duluth (75) and the University of Mary (59) to round out the top ten. Augustana (58), Northern State (37) and Minnesota, Crookston (24) were picked to finish in the last three spots to round out the poll.
Concordia University swept the Preseason Player of the Year awards as senior outfielder Brenden Furrow was picked as NSIC Preseason Player of the Year while the Golden Bears Jake Schmidt was tabbed as the league’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
BSU’s Josh Juntunen (1B/P, Sr., Elk River, Minn.) and Ryan Bohannan (P/RF, Sr., Goodyear, Ariz.) were listed amongst the league’s players to watch, respectively.
Juntunen started 33 games at first last season and will once again anchor the lineup as one of Bemidji State’s top run producers. The starting first baseman batted .282 last season and was second on the team in RBI’s (24), home runs (6) and double’s (7). He also put together eight multiple hit games and five contests with two or more RBI including a six RBI performance versus the University of Mary on Apr. 16, 2008. He is also a tremendous asset in the field as he was second on the team with a .990 fielding percentage after committing just two errors on 199 chances. The 6-3, 205 pound lefty is also one of the Beavers top pitchers. Last season, Juntunen posted a 5-5 record through 12 appearances that spanned a team leading 66.1 total innings. He possesses great command of his pitches, as evidenced by his 65 strikeouts and 20 walk in 2008. Juntunen also led the team with three complete games with eleven games started compiling a 4.61 ERA.
Bohannan started 28 games in right field a year ago garnering a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage on 64 attempts. Last season the 5-11, 170 pound senior hit .293 pounding out three extra base hits and driving in 12 RBI. Bohannan crossed the plate 10 times as a junior while stealing two bases in three attempts. On the mound, Bohannan turned in a 2-3 record and a 3.66 ERA and was very effective in the clutch as he recorded a team-high four saves. He also held his opponents to a team-low .188 batting average while striking out 23 batters in 36.2 innings of work.
Bemidji State opens its 2009 baseball campaign on Feb. 5, when it opens a two-game series at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. versus the Northern State Wolves. The Beavers and Wolves will play two seven inning games starting at 6 p.m. Bemidji State’s home opener will be Apr. 7 versus Southwest Minnesota State.
Bemidji State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).
2009 Preseason NSIC Coaches Poll
1. Wayne State - 149 (6)
2. Minnesota State - 142 (4)
3. Concordia University, St. Paul - 135 (3)
4. Winona State - 113
5. Upper Iowa - 105
6. St. Cloud State - 102
7. Southwest Minnesota State - 101
8. Minnesota Duluth - 75
9. Bemidji State - 70
10. University of Mary - 59
11. Augustana - 58
12. Northern State - 37
13. Minnesota, Crookston - 24
First place votes in ( )