SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- With the 2019 season just over a month away, the Augustana baseball team has received the No. 1 ranking in the 2019 NCAA/Collegiate baseball.com preseason Division II poll. The Vikings racked up 628 points to take home the top spot. A year ago, Augustana finished 52-9 and claimed their first national title in program history.
The Vikings return a number of key position players this spring, including reigning NSIC Freshman of the year Jordan Barth. The Cold Springs, Minn. native drove in a team-high 61 RBI while connecting on 80 hits and a .362 batting average. Barth was named an All-NSIC performer as well as a gold glove selection. Senior Michael Svozil also comes back after putting up a .319 batting average, with a single-season school record for steals with 41. Junior Riley Johnson returns for the Vikings in the outfield after a 2018 season that saw him post a batting average of .374 with 89 hits for Augustana.
Returning as a starting pitcher for the Vikings is Sophomore Jed Schmidt, who started eight games and appeared 11 times in 2018 while posting an ERA of 3.03. Augustana also returns a senior duo of pitchers in Michael Brandt and Derek Dahlke, as well as sophomore Thomas Bruss. Brandt appeared in 20 games, tossing 25.2 IP, striking out 42 K and made 8 saves.
Augustana also adds some big-time recruits to the diamond, including Major League Baseball draftee Peyton Zabel. The Pierre, S.D. native was drafted in the 19th round (575th overall) by the Milwaukee Brewers but decided to temporarily forgo his professional career to play football and baseball at Augustana. The 6'6" righty struck out over 300 batters in his high school career for the Governors.
Augustana officially begins their 2019 title defense on Feb. 16 in St. Charles, Missouri. The early season tournament will match the Vikings up with Lindenwood (Feb. 16 at 12 p.m.), Lake Erie (Feb. 16 3 p.m.), and Lindenwood (Feb. 17 11 a.m.).
The first chance for Viking fans to catch Augustana at home will be Saturday, March 16 at 1:30 p.m. when they welcome in Bemidji State for a three-game home series. All home games will be played at Karras Park the home of Ronken Field.
For the complete NCAA/Collegiate baseball.com preseason Division II poll click here.