Golden Eagles picked again to win baseball crown

ORU's Spencer Henson won the Triple Crown in 2018 as a sophomore after hitting .364 with 10 home runs and 54 RBI.
ORU's Spencer Henson won the Triple Crown in 2018 as a sophomore after hitting .364 with 10 home runs and 54 RBI.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Oral Roberts was once again picked to repeat as the Summit League baseball champions in the 2019 preseason poll of the league's six head coaches. The Golden Eagles are looking to extend their record run of regular season titles to 19 and tournament championships to 20 this season. The squad has won both titles each season since rejoining the league prior to the 2015 season.

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.

#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. Spencer 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.


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. Fort Wayne 6 11-37 (7-23)

Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team.

Players to Watch

Jayse McLean | 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)
- Has hit over .300 in each of the last two seasons
- 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 opponents 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)

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)
- 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

Note: Players to Watch selected by league's head coaches