Baseball Picked Fourth in UMAC Preseason Poll
ST. PAUL - The Martin Luther College baseball team was picked to finish fourth in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) in the preseason poll released by the conference Monday afternoon.
The Knights are looking to build off last season's 14-12 season, with sights set on a return trip to the UMAC Postseason Tournament and an improved finish in the conference this season.
Leading the way towards reaching those goals will be an experienced pitching staff led by 2013 First Team All-UMAC performer Jake Ziel. Ziel finished last season with an ERA of 1.43 in six games, striking out 54 batters in 44 innings and finishing in the top ten in Division III in hits allowed per nine innings (5.32), WHIP (0.8) and strikeouts per nine innings (11.05). Andrew Nemmers and Matt Olson also return after being key contributors last season, while the Knights hope to develop solid depth behind them with youngsters James Hemmelman, Jonathan Kock, Wyatt Weimer and Travis Kretsch.
In the field, the Knights return 2013 First Team All-UMAC selection Galen Holzhueter (.333 batting average and .451 on-base percentage) at first base, but will need three new starters around the infield. Hemmelman, Olson and Weimer figure to get most of the playing time on the left side, while first-year speedster Tom Welch likely gets the first crack at second base. Aaron Stokke returns for his third straight season behind the plate, while Joe Schmudlach returns in center field with fellow seniors Joel Hering and Ziel likely manning the corner outfield spots. Nemmers and senior Ben Edmundson also figure to see time in the outfield this season.
St. Scholastica finished first in the poll with 47 total points and five first place votes, while Bethany Lutheran (45 total points and three first place votes) and Northwestern (34 points) came in second and third, respectively. The Knights came in one point behind Northwestern with 33 points, nine points ahead of fifth-place Minnesota-Morris.