MITCHELL, S.D. – The Dakota Wesleyan University baseball team finished in a three-way tie for sixth in the Great Plains Athletic Conference in 2013, and that’s where the league’s head coaches expect them to finish again in 2014.
The Tigers, who went 24-26 overall and 9-11 in the GPAC last season, were picked to finish sixth in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll, which was released Monday afternoon. Dakota Wesleyan received 55 points and finished behind Mount Marty College, which was picked to finish fifth with 59 points.
Northwestern College, which won the conference regular and postseason titles, received nine first-place votes and was selected to repeat as GPAC champion. Doane College received one first-place vote and finished second in the poll with 87 points, and Morningside College received the final first-place vote and finished third with 80 points. Midland University rounded out the top five with 74 points, good for fourth place
The Tigers, who went 2-2 at the conference tournament in Hastings, Neb., last May, return four All-GPAC Honorable Mention players in pitchers Kyle Larson, Shaun Dean and Chris Housley and outfielder Cody Silveria. Dean led the team with a 2.49 ERA last season and Housley finished second on the team with 45 strikeouts. Larson went 4-1 in 11 appearances.
Also back for Dakota Wesleyan this season is Cole Wenande, who batted .336 for the Tigers in 2013. Silveria batted .310 and had 49 hits and 24 RBI along with 60 putouts and a .969 fielding percentage from the outfield. The Tigers tied the school record for wins on their spring trip with eight in 2013, and also broke the record with 24 triples.
The GPAC changed the format of conference doubleheaders starting in 2014. The first game of the doubleheader will be seven innings, but the second game will be nine innings to help teams prepare for the postseason, where games are nine innings.
DWU starts the 2014 season Feb. 15-16 when it travels to Pittsburg, Kan., to take on Southwest Minnesota State University. The Tigers play SMSU in a nonconference doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. on Feb. 15, and play the Mustangs in one nine-inning game Feb. 16. The Tigers host the GPAC Postseason Tournament May 1-3 at Cadwell Park.
2014 GPAC Preseason Baseball Poll
- Northwestern, 99 (9)
- Doane, 87 (1)
- Morningside, 80 (1)
- Midland, 74
- Mount Marty, 59
- Dakota Wesleyan, 55
- Nebraska Wesleyan, 48
- Briar Cliff, 34
- Concordia, 30
- Hastings, 28
- Dordt, 11