Salukis picked fifth in MVC Preseason Poll

    Senior shortstop Jake Welch

    Senior shortstop Jake Welch
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    Jan. 29, 2014

    MVC Press Release Get Acrobat Reader

    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 Former MVC member school Creighton, which finished fourth in the conference in 2013, has been replaced by Dallas Baptist for the 2014 season.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

    Rank School (1st) Votes
    1. Wichita State (6) 56
    2. Missouri State (2) 55
    3. Illinois State 46
    4. Dallas Baptist 44
    5. Southern Illinois 28
    6. Evansville 25
    7. Indiana State 23
    8. Bradley 11

    Preseason All-MVC Team

    Player School Pos. Yr.
    Casey Gillaspie Wichita State 1B Jr.
    Chris Godinez Bradley 2B So.
    Brock Stewart Illinois State 3B Jr.
    Jake Welch Southern Illinois SS Sr.
    Tyler Baker Wichita State C Jr.
    Greg Partyka Bradley DH Sr.
    Jake Mahon Evansville UT Sr.
    Garrett Bayliff Wichita State OF Sr.
    Kevin Kaczmarski Evansville OF Jr.
    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.