Jacks open home, Summit seasons
The two teams picked to finish at the top of the Summit League standings open league play Friday as South Dakota State hosts North Dakota State in the first game of a four-game weekend series.
First pitch Friday is set for 3 p.m. at Erv Huether Field. A Saturday doubleheader begins at noon, with the series finale slated for a 1 p.m. start. Saturday’s twinbill will consist of a seven-inning game followed by a nine-inning contest.
All four games will be broadcast on Brookings-based KJJQ 910 AM and streamed online through the Jackrabbit Extra subscription service at GoJacks.com.
North Dakota State, which was picked as the preseason Summit League favorite, enters the series with a 12-11 overall record. The Bison split a four-game series against in-state rival North Dakota last weekend at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
The Jackrabbits, meanwhile, have the best winning percentage in the Summit League through the pre-conference portion of their schedule with a 12-9 (.571 winning pct.) overall record despite not having played a home game this season. SDSU won two of three games last weekend at Northern Colorado.
THE SERIES: Friday’s game will mark the 148th meeting on the baseball diamond between South Dakota State and North Dakota State.
A series that dates back to 1956, SDSU holds a 95-52 lead in the all-time series. The Bison, however, won all five games played during the 2012 campaign, winning a non-conference matchup, 6-1, at Erv Huether Field on April 17 before sweeping a four-game series April 20-22 in Fargo. The first three Bison victories in the four-game set were by one run.
SUMMIT LEAGUE RACE: The South Dakota State University baseball team has been picked to finish second in the 2013 Summit League standings, according to a poll conducted among the league’s six head coaches and revealed in February.
North Dakota State received five first-place votes to be tabbed as the preseason favorite with 25 points. The Jackrabbits were second with 17 points, followed by Oakland with 16 points, including the other first-place vote.
Rounding out the poll were Western Illinois (15 points), Fort Wayne (nine) and Summit League newcomer (eight).
The Jackrabbits are coming off a 2012 season in which they finished fifth in Summit League play with a 7-14 conference record. SDSU missed out on the postseason tournament for the first time after making three consecutive tournament championship series appearances from 2009-11. Overall, the Jackrabbits ended the 2012 campaign with an 18-33-1 record under first-year head coach Dave Schrage.
The 2013 season will feature a revamped Summit League schedule in which teams will play 30 league contests, starting on April 5. Each team will play the other five programs six times — a four-game series at one location and a doubleheader at the other site. The top four teams will advance to the Summit League Championship, which is scheduled to be played May 23-25 in Rochester, Mich. The winner of the postseason tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
TELFORD EARNS SUMMIT AWARD: South Dakota State University senior Daniel Telford was honored Monday as Summit League Player of the Week after a strong weekend at the plate in a three-game series at Northern Colorado.
A native of Newmarket, Ontario, Telford batted .600 (6-for-10) as the Jackrabbits won two of three games. In an 11-8 victory on March 30, Telford tied a career high with four hits, going 4-for-5 with a triple, three runs batted in and two runs scored. He added two more hits, including another triple, in the series finale.
For the week, Telford tallied a 1.000 slugging percentage and .667 on-base percentage. He raised his batting average for the season to a robust .486 (18-for-37) and is slugging .784.
MELTON ALSO HONORED: South Dakota State University third baseman Andrew Melton was honored as Summit League Player of the Week each of the first two weeks of the 2013 season.
A senior third baseman from Littleton, Colo., Melton batted .429 (9-for-21) with a .480 on-base percentage and .571 slugging percentage in two-game series against Waldorf (Iowa), Ohio State and St. Bonaventure (N.Y.). He scored five runs, drove in four runs and tallied three doubles.
Melton followed those performances by batting .500 (5-for-10) as the Jackrabbits won two of three games in a weekend series at Mississippi Valley State. He recorded three hits in the series opener on March 1, then added doubles in both games of a doubleheader on March 3. He scored four runs, drove in one run and posted a .643 on-base percentage with a .700 slugging percentage.
For the season, Melton is batting .350 (28-for-80) with team highs of seven doubles and 21 runs scored. He also leads the team’s regular starters with a .463 slugging percentage.
BACK-TO-BACK SHUTOUTS: With their 3-0 and 5-0 wins over Waldorf (Iowa) to open the season Feb. 18, the Jackrabbits posted consecutive shuouts for the first time in seven years.
The last time SDSU blanked an opponent in back-to-back games was May 2, 2006, when the Jackrabbits defeated Bemidji State (Minn.) 6-0 in both games of a doubleheader at Bob Shelden Field.|
The shutouts also propelled the Jackrabbits to their first 2-0 start to a season since 2002, when SDSU swept a twinbill from Dakota Wesleyan. The last time the Jackrabbits began a season with three straight wins was 1999.
SOMSEN TIES MARK: Senior right-hander Layne Somsen tied a Division I-era single-game record when he notched 12 strikeouts in only seven innings of work March 1 against Mississippi Valley State.
Somsen became the fourth Jackrabbit pitcher to tally a dozen strikeouts in a game, and the second to need only seven innings.
Other 12-strikeout performances were turned in by:
• Robby Apo, 12 K’s in nine innings, at North Dakota State, 5-5-2006;
• Caleb Thielber, 12 K’s in nine innings, vs. North Dakota State, 4-19-2009;
• Blake Treinen, 12 K’s in seven innings, vs. Oral Roberts, 5-18-2010 (Game 1).
Somsen turned in another strong outing March 15 at Saint Louis, pitching 8 2/3 shutout innings in a 3-0 Jackrabbit victory. He struck out six batters and walked only one to earn Summit League Pitcher of the Week honors.
For the season, Somsen entered the week ranked 17th nationally among NCAA Division I pitchers with a 1.04 earned run average. He also ranks among the top 100 in the country for fewest hits allowed per nine innings (46th, 5.97) and strikeouts per nine innings (54th, 9.87).
PITCHERS MOVE UP: Jackrabbit pitchers Stephen Bougher, Shane Kraemer and J.D. Moore figure to further etch their names into the South Dakota State career top-10 pitching lists this season.
A senior from Papillion, Neb., Bougher has moved into second place for career innings pitched with 244.1, trailing current Minnesota Twins prospect Caleb Thielbar, who logged 274 innings from 2006-09. Bougher has started 40 games on the mound during his Jackrabbit career, putting in second place and four behind Thielbar (44 starts from 2006-09). He also stands sixth in career strikeouts with 159.
Kraemer, a senior from Vancouver, British Columbia, has split his time between a starting role and the bullpen throughout his days as a Jackrabbit. With three starts this season and two outings out of the bullpen, Kraemer has upped his career appearances total to 56, putting him in ninth place.
Moore, a sophomore from Mississauga, Ontario, earned the closer’s role midway through the 2012 season and responded with a team-high five saves. He has recorded five saves in 10 appearances so far this season, placing him in a tie with Chad Coley (10 saves fro 1990-93) for fourth place.
Moore has allowed only one run this season in 10 2/3 innings over his 10 appearances. He has struck out 14 batters and is holding the opposition to a .171 batting average.
POWER OUTAGE: Although the Jackrabbits have hit only four home runs as a team on the offensive end, their pitching staff has done an even better job of keeping the ball in the park so far this season.
Through 177 innings thus far in 2013, SDSU pitchers have allowed only two home runs. Jackrabbit pitchers logged 100 1/3 innings before giving up their first long ball of the season and put together another streak of 64 2/3 innings without a home run before Northern Colorado’s Joe Love connected on a round-tripper with one out in the sixth inning of a March 30 game in Greeley, Colo.
JACOBSON STREAK ENDS: Freshman outfielder Paul Jacobson had his team-best 13-game hitting streak end when he went 0-for-4 in a March 30 game at Northern Colorado.
During his streak, which dated back to Feb. 23 against Ohio State, Jacobson batted .340 (16-of-47) with four doubles, eight runs batted in and 14 runs scored. He hit his first career home run as part of a 2-for-4 effort in the series finale at Saint Louis (Mo.) on March 16.
Jacobson, who has reached base safely in 15 consecutive games, also is a perfect 7-for-7 on stolen base attempts this season to share the team lead with fellow freshman Zach Coppola.
The longest hitting streak by a Jackrabbit player during the Division I era is 19 games by Tyson Fisher in 2006.
COACH SCHRAGE: Veteran baseball coach Dave Schrage (pronounced Schrag) enters his 25th season as a collegiate head coach during the 2013 season. Schrage was hired to take over the reins of the South Dakota State University baseball program on Aug. 8, 2011.
Schrage recorded his 600th career victory on March 19, 2012, when the Jackrabbits recorded an 11-8 victory at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. After posting an 18-33-1 record in his first season at South Dakota State, including a 7-14 mark in The Summit League, Schrage enters the weekend with a 626-704-2 career mark. In 24 full seasons as a collegiate head coach, he has averaged more than 25 victories per season, including five campaigns with 32 or more wins. He has coached players who have earned all-conference honors 59 times and 38 of his former student-athletes have gone on to play professionally.
Most recently, Schrage was head coach at Notre Dame for four seasons, leading the Fighting Irish to a 119-104-1 record from 2007-10. After posting a .500 record (28-28) his first season in South Bend, Schrage put Notre Dame back in contention for postseason play with a 33-21-1 record in 2008 and a 36-23 mark in 2009. The Fighting Irish led the BIG EAST Conference in fielding in both 2008 and 2009, while consistently ranking at or near the top in batting, on-base percentage and earned run average.
Schrage has previously found success at the mid-major level, including a four-year stint at Evansville (Ind.) from 2003-06, during which he guided the Purple Aces to a 130-108 record. Evansville improved its win total each of his four seasons, from 24 in 2003 to 43 in 2006. Schrage earned Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year honors for the third time in 2006 as Evansville won both the regular season and tournament conference titles, earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Purple Aces advanced all the way to the finals of the Charlottesville Regional, knocking off host Virginia before falling to South Carolina in the championship.
A Chicago native, Schrage also served as head coach at Waldorf (Iowa) from 1988-90, Northern Iowa from 1991-99 and Northern Illinois from 2000-02. After inheriting a team that was 4-51 the year before he arrived, Schrage’s squad turned in a 20-game improvement with a 24-33 record in his first season and then led Northern Illinois to a winning season in 2001 with a 28-27 overall mark. He was named runner-up for National Coach of the Year by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper in 2000.
As a collegiate player, Schrage was an all-conference outfielder at Creighton, batting .400 as a junior and .433 his senior season. He also was an Academic All-America honoree during his senior campaign in 1983, and graduated that spring with a bachelor of science degree in finance. Schrage was honored on the MVC’s Centennial Celebration baseball team and is the only person in league history to earn all-conference honors and be named MVC Coach of the Year in baseball.
THE ROSTER: The 2013 SDSU baseball roster features 36 players from 10 different states plus three Canadian provinces. Of the 36 players, seven are from South Dakota and five are from Iowa. Colorado, Illinois and Minnesota are represented by four players each. Two Jackrabbit players hail from Nebraska, while Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont and Washington are represented by one player each.
In addition, five players are from Canada — three from Ontario, one from British Columbia and one from Alberta.
By class, eight are seniors, six are juniors, 12 are sophomores and 10 are freshmen.
A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits are scheduled to continue their homestand with a pair of mid-week games at Erv Huether Field. SDSU is scheduled to host North Dakota on Tuesday (April 9), with the finale of the homestand slated for Wednesday (April 10) against Mount Marty.
SDSU resumes Summit League play April 12 with a doubleheader at Fort Wayne.