ELMHURST, Ill. – Oral Roberts has been tabbed to repeat as Summit League baseball champions in a poll of the league's head coaches. The Golden Eagles are looking to extend on their record 15 regular season titles and 16 tournament championships in 2016.
ORU received all five of its possible first-place votes. Fort Wayne, last season's tournament runner-up, was picked second, its highest preseason ranking in program history. South Dakota State was slotted third with the final first-place tally, followed by Omaha, North Dakota State and Western Illinois.
#SummitBSB Preseason Notes
- A total of 13 all-league selections return for the 2016 season, including eight second-teamers.
- Oral Roberts' Matt Whatley (.355, 56 R) is the lone major award winner returning. Whatley captured Newcomer of the Year honors in his first year behind the plate for the Golden Eagles.
- Third baseman Chase Stafford (.301, 41 R) also returns for ORU after capturing first team honors as a third baseman last season.
- Fort Wayne welcomes back all six of its second team selections from a year ago in shortstop Greg Kaiser (.361, 10 HR), designated hitter Brock Logan (.295, 44 H), starting pitcher Evan Miller (6-5, 94 K), outfielders Brandon Soat (.294, 53 R) and Shane Trevino (.307, 48 RBI) and first baseman Kendall Whitman (44 R, 44 RBI).
- Omaha returns a pair of first team all-league picks in shortstop Clayton Taylor (.308, 42 RBI) and outfielder Cole Gruber (.399, 22 SB), along with second team utility player Alex Schultz (.316, 42 R). 2014 Pitcher of the Year Tyler Fox enters his senior campaign for the Mavericks.
- South Dakota State welcomes back first team designated hitter Luke Ringhofer (.321, 41 RBI), while North Dakota State returns second team outfielder Ben Petersen (.355, 28 R).
- The 2016 season marks the first year Omaha is eligible for the league tournament.
#SummitBSB Schedule Notes
- The 2016 season begins Feb. 19 with league action starting March 18.
- The first rematch of the 2015 championship game between Fort Wayne and Oral Roberts takes place in Tulsa from March 25-27. The two squads meet in Fort Wayne April 22-24.
- League teams face a total of six different teams ranked in the preseason polls by either DIBaseball.com and/or the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
- The top four teams in the regular-season standings will qualify for The Summit League Baseball Championship in Tulsa, Okla., from May 25-28.
|2016 Summit League Baseball Preseason Poll|
|Place||Team||Points (1st)||2015 Record|
|1.||Oral Roberts||25 (5)||41-16 (25-5)|
|2.||Fort Wayne||19||28-26 (13-16)|
|3.||South Dakota State||17 (1)||33-23 (18-11)|
|5.||North Dakota State||8||20-31 (11-19)|
|6.||Western Illinois||6||17-33 (10-20)|
Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team.
ABOUT THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
In its fourth decade of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of over 120,000 at nine institutions, including four located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced eight NCAA Champions along with over 75 Academic All-Americans, 65 All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level. In 2014-15, The Summit League ranked first for NCAA Graduation Success Rate in women's basketball and second in baseball. For more information about the league and to "See The Summit", visit the newly re-designed www.thesummitleague.org website, follow Summit League Basketball on Twitter @summithoops and watch the weekly "Inside The Summit League" show at www.thesummitleague.org/itsl.