SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- On Tuesday, the defending national champion Augustana Vikings baseball team was ranked No. 1 in the Preseason Division II NCBWA Coaches Poll. The Vikings hauled in 12 first-place votes to earn the top spot in the rankings. Augustana returns for the 2019 season after posting a school-record 52 wins in 2018 alongside their first national title.
Augustana will bring back several key position players this spring, including First-Team All-NSIC infielder Sam Baier. The Springfield, Minn. native posted the most assists in single-season history for the Vikings with 159 last season. Baier was also named a gold glove recipient in 2018 and to the NSIC All-Tournament Team. Senior Michael Svozil also comes back after putting up a .319 batting average and a single-season school record for steals (41). NSIC Freshman of the Year Jordan Barth returns for Augustana as well after driving in 62 RBI with a .362 batting average in 2018.
Returning at 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 innings, striking out 42 and completing 8 saves.
The Vikings also added a recruiting class that includes Major League Baseball draftee Peyton Zabel. The Pierre, S.D. native was drafted in the 19th round (575th overall) by the Milwaukee Brewers but postponed the beginning of his professional career and decided 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 starts their 2019 season on Feb. 16 in St. Charles, Mo. The early season tournament includes Friday games with Lindenwood (Feb. 16 at 12 p.m.) and Lake Erie (Feb. 16 at 3 p.m.), and again with Lindenwood on Saturday (Feb. 17 at 11 a.m.).
The Vikings’ first homestand is scheduled for March 16 in a three-game NSIC series against Bemidji State at Karras Park.