Senior shortstop Jake Welch
Jan. 29, 2014
ST. LOUIS – For the second year in a row, the Southern Illinois University baseball team has been picked to finish fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll, the conference announced Wednesday. The poll is determined by a vote from the eight coaches of the MVC.
“Preseason polls are largely determined by the number and quality of returning players,” SIU head coach Ken Henderson said. “Based on that, I think Wichita State is clearly the favorite, but I also think the league will be overall much better and more competitive this year. With 17 new players, I think we will surprise some people and are looking forward to competing for a league title.”
In addition, SIU senior shortstop Jake Welch was selected to the MVC Preseason All-Conference team, which was also released Wednesday. Welch hit .317 as a junior in 2013 and finished third in the Valley with 51 runs scored and 20 stolen bases. He hit .333 in conference play, which ranks fifth among all returning MVC hitters. In addition, Welch tied for the overall team lead with 79 hits, which ranked fourth in the conference.
“Jake Welch is very deserving of this recognition,” Henderson said. “He is a four-year starter and has grown tremendously as a person and a player during his time here. He provides us a great deal of leadership, and we certainly expect a big year from him.”
The Salukis will look to rebound after finishing seventh in the eight-team league in 2013. Former MVC member school Creighton, which finished fourth in the conference in 2013, has been replaced by Dallas Baptist for the 2014 season.
SIU will open the 2014 season on the road with a three-game series against Western Kentucky beginning Friday, Feb. 14. The Salukis will begin a new chapter in program history as they move into new Itchy Jones Stadium this season. The home opener is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 28 against Northern Illinois.
MVC Preseason Poll
|1.||Wichita State (6)||56|
|2.||Missouri State (2)||55|
Preseason All-MVC Team
|Casey Gillaspie||Wichita State||1B||Jr.|
|Brock Stewart||Illinois State||3B||Jr.|
|Jake Welch||Southern Illinois||SS||Sr.|
|Tyler Baker||Wichita State||C||Jr.|
|Garrett Bayliff||Wichita State||OF||Sr.|
|Tate Matheny||Missouri State||OF||So.|
|Jon Harris||Missouri State||SP||So.|
|Dan Savas||Illinois State||SP||Jr.|
|Aaron LaBrie||Wichita State||RP||Sr.|
|Jeremy Rhoades||Illinois State||RP||Jr.|