NCAA BASEBALL: Mustangs start season in Kansas
MARSHALL, Minn. Southwest Minnesota State University head baseball coach Paul Blanchard announced this afternoon several changes for SMSU’s season opening weekend in Kansas on Saturday and Sunday.
MSU was scheduled to play NAIA Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) in a three-game series in Pittsburg, Kan., on Saturday and Sunday, but poor field conditions in Pittsburg forced the series to be canceled.
SMSU will now play four games in Emporia, Kan., versus Emporia State and No. 17 Missouri Western State. On Saturday, SMSU will face ESU at 1 p.m., followed by a match-up with MWSU at 3:30 p.m. On Sunday, SMSU will battle ESU at 11 a.m., with a game versus MWSU to follow at 1:30 p.m. All four games will be played at ESU’s Glennen Field at the Trusler Sports Complex.
ESU will be playing its first games of the season after getting last weekend’s scheduled opening series canceled due to snow. ESU finished 27-22 last season and was picked to finish fourth in the 14-team MIAA. MWSU, which finished 40-12 last season, is 1-1 this season and was picked to finish second in the MIAA.
ABOUT THE MUSTANGS
The 2014 team features 20 letterwinners from last season’s squad that finished 17-23-1 overall and finished 10th in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with a record of 11-13. On the mound, SMSU returns six pitchers who started at least three games a season ago. Junior Brandan Alfson pitched in 11 games with five starts and finished 2-3 with a 2.73 ERA in 33 innings with one complete game. Senior Steven Wehr made nine starts and recorded a 2-3 mark with a 3.57 ERA in 40 1/3 innings. Sophomore Travis McGlauflin started a team-high 10 games last season and finished 3-4 tossing a team-leading 53 1/3 innings with a pair of complete games. The SMSU offense returns two of its top two hitters from a season ago. Junior Jon Ellis batted .318 with three doubles, two home runs and 17 RBIs, while senior Jordon Kontz finished the year batting .313 with four doubles and one triple.
2013 MUSTANG TRENDS
Senior Jon Ellis had a team-high 12-game hitting streak during the 2013 season … Ellis led the team with eight stolen bases in 11 attempts … Sophomore Travis McGlauflin had a team-high three victories and led the team with 36 strikeouts in 2013 … SMSU was outscored 44-16 in the first inning and a combined 82-40 in the first two innings during the 2013 season … SMSU finished 14-1 when leading after five innings, 14-0 when leading after six innings, 9-0 when leading after seven and after eight innings … The SMSU offense ranked tied for third in the NSIC?in home runs (19) and third in homer per game (0.79), eighth in batting average (.290), 10th in runs scored (138) … The SMSU pitching staff ranked 10th in strikeouts (117) and 12th in ERA?(6.24) … SMSU’s four-game sweep of Minnesota Crookston to close the 2013 season was the program’s first four-game sweep since the 2010 season.
Paul Blanchard, the all-time leader in victories at SMSU, is in his 18th season as head coach and has an overall record of 429-334-2, including 234-169 in conference play. During his tenure, Blanchard has led the program to its only NCAA tournament appearance, one Northern Sun Conference Intercollegiate championship, three NSIC tournament championships and 14 appearances in the NSIC tournament. Named the fifth coach in SMSU history on July 14, 1996, Blanchard has coached two NSIC Players of the Year, one NSIC Pitcher of the Year, 21 all-region players, two Academic All-Americans, the program’s only NCAA All-American and two Major League Baseball draft picks. A complete bio on coach Blanchard is on page 4.