SIOUX FALLS – South Dakota State has been picked to finish second in the upcoming Summit League baseball race, according to a poll conducted among conference coaches that was announced Thursday by league officials.
The Jackrabbits received one first-place vote, finishing with 21 points. Defending league champion Oral Roberts again paced the six-team race with five first-place votes and 25 points. North Dakota State completed the upper half of the poll with 17 points.
Rounding out the poll were: Western Illinois, 12 points; Omaha, 9 points, and Purdue Fort Wayne, 6 points.
In addition, the Jackrabbits’ Nick Smith and Brady Stover were recognized among the Summit League’s top players to watch.
A two-time all-Summit League honoree, Smith has posted a batting average of better than .300 each of the past two seasons. Smith, a senior from Chanhassen, Minn., hit at a .303 clip with 18 runs batted in en route to first-team honors as a utility player during the 2018 campaign.
Stover, a junior from Huxley, Iowa, posted a 3-2 record in 2018 with a 4.57 earned run average in 10 appearances, including nine starts. The left-hander struck out 63 batters in only 43.1 innings, setting an SDSU single-season record with an average of 13.09 strikeouts per nine innings. He also limited the opposition to a .203 batting average.
SDSU finished the 2018 season with an 18-32 overall record, including a 14-13 record in Summit League play. The Jackrabbits concluded last season by reaching the Summit League Baseball Championship title game.
The Jackrabbits are scheduled to open the 2019 campaign Feb. 15 at UT Martin.
Summit League play is slated to begin March 15, when SDSU opens a three-game series at Western Illinois.
The top four teams during the regular season will advance to the 2019 Summit League Baseball Championship, which is scheduled for May 22-25 in Tulsa, Okla.
SUMMIT LEAGUE PRESEASON BASEBALL POLL
1. Oral Roberts (5) 25
2. South Dakota State (1) 21
3. North Dakota State 17
4. Western Illinois 12
5. Omaha 9
6. Purdue Fort Wayne 6
Note: First-place votes in parentheses