Tigers picked ninth in MIAA preseason baseball poll
FHSU Sports Information
Fort Hays State baseball has been picked ninth in the MIAA Preseason Baseball Coaches Poll, released on Thursday (Jan. 30). The Tigers were picked in the same position they finished in the standings last year, coming off a 23-22 season and an appearance in the MIAA Tournament.
Fort Hays State was the No. 8 seed in the MIAA Tournament last year since Lindenwood was not postseason eligible in its last year of transition from NAIA to NCAA. Fort Hays State struggled to find a rhythm last year with its longest win streak at four games. The Tigers also had four three-game win streaks, but that was countered by one five-game, one four-game, and one three-game losing streak.
The scheduling in the conference last year may have precipitated the up-and-down play, with several mid-week doubleheaders and three-game series on the weekends. Weather also played a big factor, often rearranging the schedule.
Fort Hays State returns three starters with All-MIAA Honors from a year ago in seniors Horace Johnson, Clayton Garland, and Jordan Miller. Johnson was an All-MIAA First Team selection at designated hitter and also garnered all-region first team and second team honors. Garland and Miller, both outfielders, earned honorable mention honors. Miller led the team in batting average (.390), while Garland was second (.388). Both provided good speed, each swiping 13 bases. Johnson tied for the team lead in home runs (9) and slugging percentage (.587), while batting .336. They are the only regular starters from last year’s team to return this year.
The pitching rotation is likely to have a whole new look to it this year, as Nathan Zimmerman is the only returner with starting experience. Zimmerman started three games last year, going 3-1. There are a handful of newcomers that will be competing for the starting rotation and the Tigers will need to have a stopper emerge out of the bullpen after losing their top reliever from last year as well.
Fort Hays State opens the season next weekend in Hays with a three-game series against Upper Iowa, starting with a doubleheader on Saturday (Feb. 8).
Below is the MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll…
2014 MIAA Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Central Missouri (12) – 168
2. Missouri Western (1) – 144
3. Central Oklahoma (1) – 139
T4. Emporia State – 128
T4. Missouri Southern – 128
6. Pittsburg State – 110
7. Lindenwood – 98
8. Northeastern State – 94
9. Fort Hays State – 73
10. Nebraska-Kearney – 57
11. Northwest Missouri – 49
12. Washburn – 37
13. Southwest Baptist – 34
14. Lincoln – 15