SIU picked to finish 5th in MVC Preseason Poll

    Reliever Todd Eaton joins teammate Austin Montgomery on the preseason All-Conference team.

    Reliever Todd Eaton joins teammate Austin Montgomery on the preseason All-Conference team.
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    Jan. 30, 2013

    ST. LOUIS - The Southern Illinois baseball team has been picked to finish fifth out of the eight teams in the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll, the league announced Wednesday. The poll is voted on by the coaches of the MVC. SIU received 36 votes in the poll, nine shy of Illinois State and Indiana State. Both of those schools tied for third in the poll.

    “First, fifth or eighth doesn’t really matter because I truly believe any of the eight teams could win the league,” SIU head coach Ken Henderson said. “The Missouri Valley Conference is traditionally one of the best baseball leagues in the country.  The fact that we finished as the 6th best Division I conference in the country last year, based on NCAA RPI ratings, speaks volumes about the depth of quality teams. It has been a long time since the league has been as good top to bottom as it was last year and I expect it to be just as strong this year. There are no easy weekends, and we look forward to the opportunity to compete for a championship.”

    Two Salukis, reliever Todd Eaton and utility man Austin Montgomery, have been recognized on the Preseason All-Conference team.

    Eaton, a junior, was third in the Valley with nine saves in 2012. His 2.23 ERA was the fourth lowest among all MVC pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched. In 2012 he was a Second-Team All-MVC selection and was also voted to the MVC All-Tournament Team as he allowed just one unearned run in eight innings in the tournament, earning two wins and a save.

    Montgomery is a senior and was a First-Team All-MVC selection following the 2012 season, during which he split time between the outfield and third base. Montgomery finished fifth in the MVC batting race with a .332 average and also finished in the top 10 in the league in six other offensive categories. He is expected to be the Salukis’ every day left fielder in 2013.

    “Todd and Austin are certainly deserving of this recognition, based on the outstanding seasons they had last spring,” Henderson said. “We need both of them to continue to play well if we are to have the success that we expect, and there is certainly no reason why they can’t once again have a big year for us.”

    In 2012, the Salukis were picked sixth in the preseason poll and finished the regular season sixth in the league standings with a 9-12 mark in the conference before sweeping their way to the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. SIU finished with a 31-28 overall record. This year's team returns six of nine starters in the lineup along with two weekend starting pitchers.

    2013 MVC Preseason Poll

    Rank Team (First Place Votes) Points
    1. Missouri State (6) 60
    2. Wichita State (1) 47
    T3. Illinois State (1) 45
    T3. Indiana State 45
    5. Southern Illinois 36
    6. Bradley 21
    7. Creighton 18
    8. Evansville 16

    2013 MVC Preseason All-Conference Team

    Player, School Pos. Cl.
    Johnny Coy, Wichita State 1B Sr.
    Chris Godinez, Bradley 2B So.
    Zac Johnson, Illinois State 3B Sr.
    Brett Kay, Illinois State SS Sr.
    Luke Voit, Missouri State C Sr.
    Greg Partyka, Bradley DH Jr.
    Austin Montgomery, Southern Illinois UT Sr.
    Eric Aguilera, Illinois State OF Sr.
    Keenan Maddox, Missouri State OF Sr.
    Robby Ort, Indiana State OF Sr.
    Sean Manaea, Indiana State SP Jr.
    Nick Petree, Missouri State SP Jr.
    Tyler Burgess, Missouri State RP So.
    Todd Eaton, Southern Illinois RP Jr.