(MSU Billings release)
PORTLAND, Ore. - Montana State University Billings baseball, under the direction of head coach Derek Waddoups enters the spring season atop the 2020 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Preseason Baseball Coaches poll in an announcement made by the conference office Friday.
The Yellowjackets are fresh off their first-ever GNAC Championships title and a trip to the NCAA Division II West Regional tournament. MSUB was selected as the preseason favorites with four first-place votes and a total of 33 points. The Yellowjackets finished last season 33-20 overall and 30-10 in conference play to claim the GNAC regular-season title before going undefeated to win the GNAC Championships.
After winning the GNAC Regular Season championship for the fourth time in program history, the Yellowjackets won the conference tournament for the first time and earned their first ever berth to the NCAA Division II west region championship in LaJolla, California where they played Point Loma Nazarene and University of California San Diego.
Along the route to the NCAA Region Championships, the ‘Jackets broke nine team single game records, 16 team single season records, and three conference team season records including home runs, total bases, and home runs per game.
Before playing in the GNAC post-season tournament for the sixth time in the team’s history, sophomore first baseman Daniel Cipriano led the league in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in to become the second player in GNAC history to win the prestigious Triple Crown.
Cipriano was also named GNAC newcomer of the year and player of the year for his outstanding season. A GNAC record 10 different players earned player of the week honors during the season in what became the most successful playoff run in MSUB’s Division II era. Nine players earned regional awards, and Cipriano was awarded D2CCA Second team all-American.
After the season, 13 players were recognized with all-conference awards. First team honorees included Daniel Cipriano, Matt Dillon, Steen Fredrickson, Jalen Garcia, Andrew Schleusner, and Wyatt Setian. Second team honorees included Chris Arpan and Landon Peterson. GNAC Honorable Mentions included Tyler Detloff, Connor Linebarger, Keven Mackintosh, Jarrod Molnaa, and Brooks Zimmer.
The Yellowjackets will need to restock its starting rotation after losing Steen Fredrickson and Jarrod Molnaa. Senior Keven Mackintosh is in a prime position to emerge after recording a 5-3 record, a 5.46 earned run average and 61 strikeouts a year ago. The coaching staff has also added several transfer pitchers who could find their way into the rotation.
Western Oregon was picked to finish second in the poll after finishing 30-13 overall, 26-11 in the GNAC. The Wolves lost to MSUB in the conference championship and received 31 points in the coaches poll Friday. Northwest Nazarene (22 points), Central Washington (15 points), Saint Martin’s (15 points), and Concordia (10 points) rounded out the projected order of finish.
The Yellowjackets begin their 2020 campaign in San Diego, California when they take on Point Loma at Carroll B. Land Stadium in a three-game series beginning January 31. MSUB’s home opener is scheduled for February 21 at Dehler Park against Colorado School of Mines.