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Another fantastic season is around the corner and we take an inside look at the Missouri Valley Conference and Summit League in our latest conference previews.
Wichita State fell short of winning the MVC regular season title last season, but still advanced to an NCAA regional by winning the conference tournament. The Shockers welcome back a fantastic weekend rotation and are the pick to win the regular season title this season.
Missouri State and Creighton also are expected to contend for the conference crown.
In the Summit League, Oral Roberts always has dominated the title picture. However, Centenary has a golden opportunity to make a huge statement in its final season at the Division I level.
1. Wichita State
2. Missouri State
4. Illinois State
5. Indiana State
6. Southern Illinois
C Kevin Sullivan, Bradley
1B Clint McKeever, Wichita State
2B Kevin Medrano, Missouri State
SS Elliot Soto, Creighton
3B Cody Fick, Evansville
OF Robbie Knight, Creighton
OF Ryan Strausborger, Indiana State
OF Aaron Conway, Missouri State
DH Tyler Bullock, Southern Illinois
SP Aaron Meade, Missouri State
SP Tim Kelley, Wichita State
SP Jordan Cooper, Wichita State
RP Bobby Lackovic, Creighton
Tim Kelley, Wichita State
Robbie Knight, Creighton
Normalcy returns to the Missouri Valley this season.
Wichita State is a mainstay atop the conference standings, but the Shockers took a step back last season – at least in the regular season – with a fourth place finish. The Shockers, of course, still managed to make an NCAA regional by winning the conference tournament.
This season, the Shockers will leave little doubt as they're the league favorite with the return of an excellent weekend rotation with Tim Kelley, Jordan Cooper and Charlie Lowell as the headliners.
Missouri State lost some talented players but once again will be solid with ace pitcher Aaron Meade and the offensive duo of Kevin Medrano and Aaron Conway leading the charge.
Creighton also once again will be in the title mix while Illinois State could surprise with the return of six position starters and several talented pitchers from a team that was vastly improved last season.
Indiana State made a strong impression last season, but the Sycamores have several holes to fill before joining the title mix once again this season.
The MVC race is clear entering the spring.
AT A GLANCE
Regular-season winner last season: Missouri State
Tournament winner last season: Wichita State
New coaches: Rick Heller (previously Northern Iowa), Indiana State
Coach on the rise: Keith Guttin, Missouri State
Rising stock: Illinois State
Falling stock: Evansville
Regional contenders: Wichita State, Missouri State
Injuries to note: Greg Hellhake (coming off labrum surgery), Creighton, Mike Nihsen (coming off UCL sprain), Creighton, Ryan Hege (out for season, arm injury), Wichita State
1. Oral Roberts
3. Southern Utah
4. South Dakota State
5. North Dakota State
7. IUPU-Fort Wayne
8. Western Illinois
C Seth Furmanek, Oral Roberts
1B Tell Ross, Centenary
2B Tommy Jablonski, Oakland
SS Max Casper, North Dakota State
3B Jesse Sawyer, South Dakota State
OF Tyler Garewal, Oral Roberts
OF Joel Blake, South Dakota State
OF P.J. Sequeira, Oral Roberts
DH Michael Tompkins, Centenary
SP Justin Kraft, Centenary
SP Boone Whiting, Centenary
SP Steve Johnson, Southern Utah
RP Jeff Burleson, Oral Roberts
Boone Whiting, Centenary
Jesse Sawyer, South Dakota State
Centenary hopes to save the best for last.
The Gentleman will play their final season as a Division I program this spring. They'd like nothing more than to finish off their tenure with a trip to an NCAA regional.
Oral Roberts is another team with high hopes. The Golden Eagles certainly have some incredibly tough holes to fill on the mound, but coach Rob Walton is one of the best in the business and once again will have his team ready to play.
Southern Utah hopes to have another winning season and Western Illinois moves on with new coach Mike Villano at the helm. The Leathernecks, of course, suffered a tough loss when Stan Hyman passed away last summer. Hyman was 50.
The title race definitely will be between Oral Roberts and Centenary.
AT A GLANCE
Regular-season winner last season: Oral Roberts
Tournament winner last season: Oral Roberts
New coaches: Mike Villano, Western Illinois
Coach on the rise: Ed McCann, Centenary
Rising stock: Centenary
Falling stock: Western Illinois
Regional contenders: Oral Roberts, Centenary
Injuries to note: John Straka (Tommy John), North Dakota State, Bryant Larson (Tommy John), North Dakota State, Colby Tognetti (broken ankle)
- Oral Roberts
- Wichita State
- Missouri Valley Conference