Augustana Baseball ranked on top of NSIC Preseason Poll

BURNSVILLE, Minn. -- The defending NCAA Division II National Champions, Augustana Baseball was picked to finish first in the 2019 NSIC Preseason Baseball Coaches' Poll. The Vikings totaled 13-of-15 first-place votes and finished with 193 points, 18 ahead of runner up Minnesota State.

The Vikings preseason selection marks the first time since joining the NSIC in 2008 that the Augustana has been picked to win the league. Augustana returns seven everyday starters from their championship squad in the field while bringing back four pitchers who made significant contributions in 2018.

Augustana returns numerous key position players this season, including reigning NSIC Freshman of the year Jordan Barth, who drove in a team-high 61 RBI while hitting .362 from the plate. Senior Michael Svozil comes back after putting up a .319 average, with a single-season school record for steals with 41. Junior Sam Baier will look to build on a 2018 season that saw him compile the school record in assists at 159 while slugging eight home runs on the year.

Headlining the pitching staff is sophomore Jed Schmidt, senior Michael Brandt, senior Derek Dahlke, and sophomore Thomas Bruss who all return from last season. Schmidt started eight games in 2018, posting an ERA of 3.03. Brandt appeared in 20 games with 42 strikeouts and eight saves. Augustana also adds freshman pitcher Peyton Zabel, a Milwaukee Brewers draftee who postponed his professional career to play football and baseball for the Vikings.

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.).

2019 NSIC Preseason Baseball Coaches Poll 
1. Augustana (13) ............................193
2. Minnesota State (2) .....................175
3. Minot State ..................................172
4. St. Cloud State ............................162
5. Concordia-St. Paul ......................139
6. Wayne State ................................121
7. Winona State ...............................115
8. Northern State .............................109
9. Minnesota Duluth............................91
10. Minnesota Crookston....................67
11. Sioux Falls ....................................65
12. SMSU ...........................................55 
Upper Iowa ...................................55
14. Bemidji State ................................34
15. University of Mary .........................22