BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University baseball team can finally put its preparation into action throwing out the first pitch of the 2016 season against Missouri Southern State University Feb. 12-14. The Beavers and Lions will begin with a doubleheader Friday starting at 12 p.m. followed by two single-game outings at 12 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in Joplin, Mo.
Each of the scheduled games will be a nine-inning contest at Warren Turner Field.
About Bemidji State
- Bemidji State finished the 2015 season with a 14-33 record overall and went 11-21 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, which placed the Beavers 11th in the conference standings.
- BSU returns 23 letterwinners, including two of its top hitters, while losing seven.
- Junior Jake Braun and senior Joey Hanowski led the Beavers hitting .381 and .351, respectively. Hanowski is the only player returning who started all 47 games in 2015 while Braun started six of 13 games played.
- Hanowski paced BSU offensively while leading the team in at-bats (174), total bases (83), hits (61) and triples (2). He finished the season with 29 RBI, a .477 slugging percentage, a .406 on-base percentage and a .908 fielding percentage.
- Junior Mason Bellew also played in all 47 games, hitting for a .257 batting average and totaling a .977 fielding percentage with a team-high 271 putouts.
- Sophomore Scott Litchy led the Beavers in RBI (31), walks (18), stolen bases (6), home runs (5), sacrifice flies (3), and triples (2) as a freshman. He finished 6-of-6 on stolen base attempts as BSU finished 32-of-40 as a team.
- The Beavers scored 251 runs while hitting .293 as a team, including 31 home runs. The home run total was the most for the program since hitting 33 in 2012.
- On the mound, BSU tallied an ERA of 10.34 while throwing 272 strikeouts.
- Juniors Terry Hadden and Jack Stigman, along with sophomore Michael Herd, led the returning pitching staff with 32 strikeouts each. Hadden led the unit with a 6.82 ERA and finishing with a 4-6 record in 11 starts, including four complete games. Herd finished 2-2 and started three of 13 games pitched in with a team-low .312 opponent batting average.
About Missouri Southern State
- The Lions went 40-14 last season and won both the regular season and Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association postseason titles. Southern advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the past three years.
- MSSU finished the 2015 season ranked No. 24 nationally and enter the 2016 season opener at the same ranking. Southern was picked to win its conference in the MIAA Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
- The Lions return three of their four top starting pitchers that led the MIAA in ERA (4.25), shutouts (7), strikeouts (410), strikeout to walk ratio (3.5), WHIP (1.3) and walks allowed (117/fewest).
- Cody Hutchinson, Payton Walker and Chris Hoffman combined for a 22-5 overall record last year while striking out 194 and walking 42. Hutchinson was named and All-American and the MIAA Pitcher of the Year last season while Walker was named All-MIAA and All-Region.
- Hoffman, an All-American utility player last season, led the team with a .426 batting average while starting 52 of 53 games played. He also led the team in hits (83), runs (56), stolen bases (18), doubles (16), triples (3) and on-base percentage (.489).
- Jesse Rall was also named an All-American while leading the Lions in RBI (61), home runs (16) and slugging percentage (.741).
- The Lions totaled a batting average of .315 while knocking out 56 home runs.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).