SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – With first pitch of the 2019 season nearly a week away, the Oral Roberts baseball team was predicted to finish atop the standings in The Summit League Preseason Poll Thursday as voted upon by the conference's head coaches.
Spencer Henson and Josh McMinn were chosen as "Players to Watch" representing the Golden Eagles by the league as the team begins their quest for a 19th-consecutive regular season title as members of The Summit League. ORU opens the year against Murray State Feb. 15-17 at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
ORU received all five of its possible first-place votes for 25 total points. South Dakota State received the final first-place vote and placed second with 21 points. North Dakota State followed in third (17 points) and Western Illinois was in fourth (12 points) while Omaha (9 points) and Fort Wayne (6 points) rounded out the poll.
2019 Summit League Baseball Preseason Poll
Place Team Points (1st) 2018 Record
1. Oral Roberts 25 (5) 38-20 (24-6)
2. South Dakota State 21 (1) 18-32 (14-13)
3. North Dakota State 17 26-24 (15-13)
4. Western Illinois 12 17-31 (14-12)
5. Omaha 9 15-35 (10-17)
6. Purdue Fort Wayne 6 11-37 (7-23)
Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team.
#SummitBSB Preseason Notes
- A total of 12 all-league selections return (four first-teamers, eight second-teamers) for the 2019 season -- Oral Roberts, South Dakota State and Western Illinois each have three on their respective rosters to lead the way.
- Meanwhile, half of the 14 all-tournament team selections from a year ago return to the field in 2019.
- Oral Roberts will have to fill the void left behind by reigning two-time Player of the Year Noah Cummings (.318, 9 HR, 55 RBI) and reigning two-time Pitcher of the Year Miguel Ausua (8-2, 3.67 ERA, 69 K).
- The Golden Eagles do return Newcomer of the Year Riley Keizor who batted .293 with six home runs and 41 RBI en route to earning All-Summit League First Team honors at catcher.
- Keizor and first baseman Spencer Henson are the only returning set of teammates from the All-Summit League First Team. Henson became just the fourth player in league history to win the Triple Crown (.364, 10 HR, 58 RBI) as a sophomore
- Western Illinois (14-12), North Dakota State (15-13) and South Dakota State (14-13) all finished over .500 in Summit League play last season and were separated by mere percentage points.
- The Jackrabbits were the No. 4 seed at the Baseball Championship but advanced to the title game against Oral Roberts. They were the first No. 4 seed since 2014 (NDSU) to advance to the title game.
- Two-sport standout Steve McShane of Western Illinois returns for his final collegiate season - he has been an all-league performer in both baseball (2018 First Team) and football (All-Missouri Valley Second Team; 2016-18).
- The Leathernecks also return All-Summit League Second Team performers Alex Dorethy (DH) and C.J. Schaeffer (C).
- Dorethy and SDSU's Gus Steiger were the only freshmen named to the All-Summit League Team -- both as second-team selections. Steiger's .335 batting averaged topped the Jacks' last season and was third best in the league.
- Two-time All-Summit League Team honoree Nick Smith batted .303 last season en route to first-team accolades.
- SDSU's Tyler Olmstead and Oral Roberts' Josh McMinn are the only returning hurlers from the All-Summit League Team.
- North Dakota State's Jayce McClean is the lone returning Bison that was an All-Summit League Team member from 2018. He led the team with seven home runs and added 31 RBI.
- Omaha outfielder Thomas DeBonville led the league in steals (21) and triples (4) last season and earned All-Summit League Second Team honors.
- Purdue Fort Wayne brings back its top hitter from 2018 in All-Summit League honoree Travis Upp (second team).
- Oral Roberts is in search of extending its league record of 18 regular season championships and 19 tournament titles. The Golden Eagles received votes in both the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Preseason Polls.
#SummitBSB Schedule Notes
- The 2019 season begins Feb. 15 with league action starting a month later on March 15.
- The first rematch of last season's championship game between South Dakota State and Oral Roberts takes place in Tulsa from March 22-24. The two squads meet again in Brookings, May 10-12.
- The top four teams in the regular-season standings will qualify for The Summit League Baseball Championship in Tulsa, Okla., from May 22-25.
Players to Watch
Spencer Henson | Oral Roberts | Jr. | 1B
- Earned All-Summit League First Team honors and won the Triple Crown in The Summit League last season after leading the league in home runs (10), RBI (58) and batting average (.364); fourth player to accomplish that feat in league history
- Batted a league-best .381 with league-leading six home runs in Summit League play
- Posted 14 multiple-RBI games and hit safely in 44 of 54 games
Josh McMinn | Oral Roberts | Sr. | RHP
- Two-time All-Summit League performer on the mound (1st, 2017; 2nd, 2018), 2018 Summit League All-Tournament Team honoree
- Owns 21 career victories in three seasons as a starter for the Golden Eagles
- Sitting on 199 career strikeouts in 231.0 innings pitched
Jayse McClean | North Dakota State | Sr. | OF
- Named to the All-Summit League second team as an outfielder
- One of three Bison to start all 50 games last season
- Led the team with seven home runs and was second with 31 RBI
Parker Harm | North Dakota State | Jr. | LHP
- Posted a 2-2 record with a save while posting a 4.21 ERA
- Struck out a career-high 11 in five shutout innings vs. South Dakota State
- Averaged better than a strikeout per inning in 2018 (55K in 51.1 IP)
Brett Bonar | Omaha | Jr. | C
- Named a second team All-KJCC performer as a sophomore at Barton County C.C.
- Led Barton County with a .410 batting average and 69 RBI
- Finished two-year stint in JUCO with 88 RBI
Joey Machado | Omaha | So. | RHP
- Led the Mavs with four wins and 82.2 innings pitched during freshman season in 2018
- Compiled a 4.35 ERA during rookie collegiate season to go with 50 strikeouts
- Won four of his first five starts in Summit League play
Travis Upp | Purdue Fort Wayne | Jr. | 1B
- Named to the All-Summit League Second Team as a first baseman in 2018
- Led the Mastodons in RBI (21) and batting average (.305)
- Finished campaign with 10 multiple-hit games
Jacob Dickson | Purdue Fort Wayne | Jr. | OF
- Career .279 hitter during 83 career starts for the Mastodons
- Ranked second on the team in home runs (3) and third in RBI (18) in 2018
Nick Smith | South Dakota State | Sr. | UT
- Two-time All-Summit League Team utility honoree (2018, 1st; 2017; 2nd)
- Jackrabbits' top returning hitter from 2018 (.303)
- Put together a 14-game hitting streak during the 2018 season (.448; 26-for-58)
Brady Stover | South Dakota State | Jr. | LHP
- Owns a 5-5 record and 4.36 ERA over two seasons as a starter for the Jackrabbits
- Set an SDSU Division I record with 13 strikeouts against Purdue Fort Wayne in 2018
- Led the Jacks in 2018 with a 4.57 ERA and .203 opponent batting average
Alex Dorethy | Western Illinois | So. | UT
- One of two freshmen to be named All-Summit League in 2018 (2nd; designated hitter)
- Ranked third on team with a .299 batting average and was second in RBI (27)
- Posted a 3.38 ERA in 10 relief appearances
Steve McShane | Western Illinois | Sr. | OF
- First Team All-Summit League in 2018 (outfielder)
- Led the Leathernecks in batting average (.318; 7th in The Summit League) in 2018; also hit team-best .325 in league play
- Second-Team All-Missouri Valley performer on the gridiron from 2016-18 (2,375 rushing yards; 22 rushing TDs)
Note: Players to Watch selected by league's head coaches
For the latest information on ORU Baseball, follow the Golden Eagles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or go to www.ORUAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading two mobile apps, ORU Golden Eagles Live and ORU Front Row, available on the App Store and Google Play.