Southwest Baptist moves into the top 5!

Southwest Baptist moves into the top 5!

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The Bobcats from Southwest Baptist were one of my selections to finish near the bottom of the barrel this year in my Missouri Division II rankings. March has come and gone along with my thoughts of Southwest Baptist not having the potential to be a top tier team.

The bobcats on the season sit at a 21-9 record with a 11-7 record in the MIAA. Southwest Baptist hasn’t won more than 21 games in a season in the past 7 years other than 2014 when they won 29 and finished 5th in the conference and then last year the bobcats won 22 games finishing 11th in the conference.

This year there has been a turn around for the better and each week Southwest Baptist continues to prove to me they are a team to keep an eye on. The bobcats are starting to build an impressive resume of wins on the season with a sweep of Lindenwood and Missouri Southern in back to back weeks.

The one kicker that stands out to me as a reason to hold off on making them a top 3 team and a team that could make a playoff push would be their home/road splits. Southwest Baptist on the season sits at an average at best road record of 6-6. The bobcats do, however, get it done at home with a 15-3 record on the season.

The road record should get more opportunities in the next few weeks, but one saving grace for the bobcats is their remaining schedule is extremely friendly. They will travel to Washburn and Pittsburg State, but they will host #18 Central Missouri and #4 Emporia State, who happen to be the top 2 teams in the MIAA.

I do think the bobcats of Southwest Baptist aren’t a fun matchup by any stretch of the imagination, but I would like to see more road wins before putting them up there with Drury and Central Missouri.

My rankings for Division II baseball in Missouri:

                                                              Division II
Rank Team 2017 Record Last Week Results Previous Rank
1 #20 Central Missouri 20-8 1-2 1
2 Drury 19-8 4-1 3
3 NW Missouri St. 20-10 4-1 9
4 Southwest Baptist 21-9 3-1 10
5 Lindenwood 18-14 3-1 4
6 Rockhurst 16-12 3-1 7
7 Missouri Southern 19-15 0-4 5
8 Missouri S & T 12-14 2-2 2
9 Missouri Western 15-15 1-3 6
10 Maryville 16-13 1-3 8
11 William Jewell 12-12 3-1 11
12 Truman 8-21 1-3 12
13 UMSL 9-15 1-4 13

Crowder tops the JUCO class in the state of Missouri!

Crowder tops the JUCO class in the state of Missouri!

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Crowder Community College Baseball has quickly risen to becoming a house hold name for baseball players. Coached by Travis Lallemand for 11 seasons, the Roughriders have made their home in Neosho, Missouri.

Scouts, always seem to make their way down south, to see the Roughriders play at least once a year. This year Crowder CC has not only some players to see, but they have the current best team in the state of Missouri ranking.

Kyle Wilson is one of those names you need to see. Currently the 8th best prospect in the state of Missouri who supports 6 innings pitched with 13 k’s to match a 19.25 K/9. Wilson among others on the Roughriders team have put together a great season thus far.

Crowder (29-8) has only had one off weekend all season. Taking on a solid Iowa Western club early in the year resulted in Crowder losing 3 of 4 games. After losing that series Crowder has won 5 straight coming into this week.

As conference play begins I believe the Roughriders will stay at the top of the rankings most of the year. My top community colleges in the state of Missouri are listed below:

                                                                      Junior College
Rank Team 2017 Record Previous Rank
1 #9 Crowder 29-8 1
2 Mineral Area 21-9 2
3 Jefferson 22-10 3
4 St. Louis 15-12 5
5 Maplewoods 10-18 4
6 State Fair 12-18 6
7 North Central 13-14 7
8 Three Rivers 10-16 8
9 St. Charles 4-17 9

 

#24 Mizzou now #1 in Missouri. D1 Rankings.

#24 Mizzou now #1 in Missouri. D1 Rankings.

Image result for mizzou baseball TJ Sikkema

Coming into the 2017 season it was pretty unanimous across the state that Mizzou was way down and couldn’t be expected to win many games this year. 20 Games into the season and the Tigers have only lost 1 game.

Mizzou is off to a 19-1 start, which ties a program best dating all the way back to 1964.

Starting SEC play this weekend Missouri traveled to the University of Alabama. After the weekend came to an end the Tigers had their first road sweep since March 15th, 2015 against Georgia. The sweep, also, marked Mizzou’s third sweep overall in the SEC since joining the conference.

T.J. Sikkema (Dewitt, Iowa)  had an unbelievable weekend on the mound which helped the Tigers close the door on any Alabama opportunities. Sikkema pitched 5 1/3 innings over the weekend with 10 k’s, 2 bb, 3 hits and 0 runs allowed.

Sikkema, still just a freshman, has an .38 ERA on the season now with 41 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched. He’s allowed 1 earned run so far this year. Sikkema has certainly been a great find diamond in the rough for the Tigers so far this year.

Mizzou takes over the #1 ranking in my Division 1 rankings.

                                                                    Division 1
Rank Team 2017 Record Last Week Results Previous Rank
1 #23 Missouri 19-1 4-0 2
2 Missouri St. 13-6 1-3 1
3 St. Louis 15-4 2-2 3
4 Southeast Mo St. 10-7 4-0 4

Miners with another tough road test. Weekly matchups for Division II are up.

 

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Looking at the state of Missouri Division II schools, the MIAA conference sticks out and is known to be the “SEC” of division II baseball. However, the schedule that Missouri S&T has played so far and will continue to play this week against #19 Saint Josephs is not far from being the toughest schedule in the state.

S&T started off the year playing at #15 Emporia State for 3 games in which they took 1 of 3. Next the miners traveled to play at the time #7 St. Edwards for 4 games. Miners took 1 of 4 games on the road. Now they travel to St. Joseph’s to play another top ranked team on the road. I’d argue this has to be up there with one of the more tougher schedules on the season.

All that said, going 2-7 so far against top opponents won’t be getting the Miners anyone’s praises come tournament time. I like the battle test schedule, but the Miners now need to prove this weekend they are a good ball club. I give my weekend matchup series of the week to Missouri S&T and #19 St. Joseph’s.

Other matchups I like:

Missouri Western at Missouri Southern. I see this matchup is a great backyard brawl between two good teams. Griffins are 8-1 in their last 9 and Missouri Southern needs to get over the hump with a big series win.

                                                     Division II
Rank Team 2017 Record Matchups this week
1 #4 Central Missouri 15-4 @ Nebraska at Kearney (3G)
2 Missouri S & T 9-6 @ #19 St. Joseph’s (4G)
3 Missouri Western 11-8 @ Mo Southern (3G)
4 Rockhurst 10-4 vs. McKendree (3G), vs. NWMOST (1G), @ NWMOST (1G)
5 Drury 9-6  vs. Trevecca Nazarene (3G)
6 Lindenwood 13-7 @ Illinois Springfield (1G), vs. Central Oklahoma (3G)
7 Missouri Southern 12-9 @ Maryville (2G), vs. Mo Western (3G)
8 Maryville 10-5 vs. Mo Southern (2G)
9 NW Missouri St. 11-8 vs. William Jewell (1G), @Rockhurst (1G), vs. Rockhurt (1G)
10 Southwest Baptist 13-6 vs. Northeastern State U. (3G)
11 William Jewell 5-6 @NWMOST (1G), vs. Northern State University (3G)
12 Truman 4-8 vs. Augustana (SD) (4G), @ Lewis University (4G)
13 UMSL 4-7 @ Illinois Springfield (1G), vs. Ballarmine (3G)

Mizzou’s Robbie Glendinning helps Tigers to a 15 game winning streak. DI Rankings are up!

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15-1 for the Tigers is the best start Missouri has ever seen from its’ baseball program. Robbie Glendinning, a Missouri Top 10 prospect, certainly took a role last week in helping that streak stay alive.

Two walk off hits in a season some would say is pretty remarkable, but two walk off hits in one week is hinting in the conversation of unthinkable. Unthinkable in two ways, one Glendinning would simply have to be at the plate in a walk off situation twice and two he would actually have to win the game in walk off fashion twice.

Glendinning came through for the Tigers last week as he hit a solid .476 with five runs, four RBI, two doubles, a triple and a homerun. He now is in the top three in the SEC in batting average (.429) and the Tigers sit at 15-1 with 2 non-conference games left with Chicago State before they open up SEC play against Alabama.

I said at the beginning of the year Missouri was my preseason number 1 team in the state of Missouri at the Division 1 level that was quickly changed with the emergence of a well built rotation and lineup from Missouri State. However, 15 wins in a row does help the Tigers case for a return to the top spot.

A big weekend verse Alabama will have the Tigers scratching at the Bears of Missouri State.

My Division 1 Rankings for Missouri:

                                                                     Division 1
Rank Team 2017 Record Last Week Results Previous Rank
1 Missouri St. 12-3 2-2 1
2 Missouri 15-1 5-0 2
3 St. Louis 13-2 3-1 4
4 Southeast Mo St. 6-7 0-3 3

Mules top Central Oklahoma in top 25 battle. New DII Rankings are up!

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Central Missouri welcomed home a ranked Central Oklahoma team to town for a conference weekend series. Central Oklahoma has been a team that can flat hit, both in past years and this year. However, the old saying goes, pitching and defense win championships.

The Mules of Central Missouri currently hold the best ERA in the conference in 2.56. Surprisingly the mules sit 10th in the conference in fielding percentage. Despite the oddity of the stats, Central Missouri played host to one of the bigger matchups in the MIAA conference.

After the weekend series ended Central Missouri took 2 of the 3 in the series. The rubber match being a 12-0 shutout in favor of the home team Mules. The shutout featured 6 strong innings from Steven D’Amico with 10 groundball outs and 5 k’s.

The Mules did dip in the ABCA rankings to #4 in the country, but still remain the top team in the state of Missouri.

Lindenwood and Maryville jump two spots in my rankings, everyone else stayed around the same area in my top 13.

                                                                      Division II
Rank Team 2017 Record Last Week Results Previous Rank
1 #4 Central Missouri 15-4 2-1 1
2 Missouri S & T 9-6 3-1 2
3 Missouri Western 11-8 2-1 4
4 Rockhurst 10-4 4-2 5
5 Drury 9-6 2-2 3
6 Lindenwood 13-7 4-0 8
7 Missouri Southern 12-9 1-2 6
8 Maryville 10-5 2-0 10
9 NW Missouri St. 11-8 1-2 7
10 Southwest Baptist 13-6 4-0 12
11 William Jewell 5-6 0-2 9
12 Truman 4-8 0-0 11
13 UMSL 4-7 4-2 13

Patience for the Saints is the key, and a little timely hitting.

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       It has been 5 years in the making for Seth VonBehren, but the Maryville Saints seem to be well on their way to building a great foundation in Chesterfield, Missouri. VonBehren is in his 5th year at the helm for Maryville University and this year’s start is appearing to be one of his best teams he has put together.

5 years ago when VonBehren took over the program the Maryville Saints were lucky if they could see 20 wins in a season. Last year, VonBehren led the Saints to their 2nd 20 win season under his program, along with helping develop Maryville’s first ever drafted player, Robbie Gordon.

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Gordon led a Saints program that was still developing their foot roots, and got himself known through his ability on the mound. He lit up those in the baseball industry when he threw the first ever perfect game in Maryville’s program history. Gordon was then selected by the Cardinals in the 36th round.

Flash forward now to this season the Saints are currently hitting the cover off of the ball. Hitting .370 as a team is first in the GLVC and is 3rd best in the country. Speaking with Maryville’s assistant hitting coach Bryan Niedbalski last week he mentioned the development of the Saints over the past 5 years has been the reason the rise to the top is starting to come full circle.

“We have a lot of great players who love to learn more about hitting,” Niedbalski mentioned in our conversation. Leading the GLVC in Runs (137), Doubles (41), Triples (12) and RBI’s (127) has the Saints sitting 8-5 on the young season.

Maryville has gotten off to a hot start, but I believe the Saints could be a real threat this year in the GLVC. They have taken their down years to get the right players in house. Maryville last year not only improved with a 20 win season, they also held a 3.2 GPA in the classroom.

Patience can be the name of the game in anything in life, for the Saints it has been the key to their hitting ability today. 20 wins isn’t a far reach for the Saints this year. I think 25 could be even more in conversation if the hitting stays, and I expect it to.