Fulton, Mo. – Head coach Zach Bishop's Westminster College baseball team was selected by the league's coaches to finish fourth in this year's SLIAC baseball race. The Blue Jays received 33 points in the pre-season poll. The Blue Jays return four position starters and five returning pitchers with experience from last year's team. Coach Bishop and his staff welcomed 23 new players to campus 21freshmen and two transfers this past fall.
The Blue Jays will rely heavily on their returning pitching staff. The return of starting pitchers junior Mason Kirkweg and senior Skyler Dickneite will give the Jays a solid one two punch on the mound. Senior Drew Boessen took on the role of being a closer last season and will look to once again close out Blue Jay victories. Junior Jayme Bertish and sophomore Josh Weaver also return with experience on the mound from last year. Several talented freshmen will look to make an impact on the staff from day one. Dawson Koch, Grant Higginbotham, Matt Trout and Chase Holder are all talented arms who compete in the zone with multiple pitches.
The Blue Jays return four position starters in junior first baseman Hayden Hirschvogel, sophomore second baseman Parker Schnieders, Senior catcher Derek Shikles and sophomore outfielder Bryce McKinnon. Junior transfer Steven Diaz is a switch-hitting leadoff guy with some pop and past success in the SLIAC. Freshman Coltin Green and Logan Thompson are middle of the order power bats, and freshman Payton Whitehead and Austin Mayton have shown consistent offensive ability and improvement.
Webster University, who has won the last 13 SLIAC regular season titles was voted the favorite for this year's championship compiling 48 points and six first place votes. Spalding University checked in at number two in the poll with 44 points and two first place vote. Fontbonne University received 34 points good for third place just one vote ahead of the Blue Jays. Greenville University was tabbed fifth with 26 points. Eureka College received 13 points which was good for seventh. Blackburn College rounded out the poll with 11 points for eighth place.
2021 SLIAC Men's Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll
(number in parentheses is first place votes)
Webster - 48 (6)
Spalding - 44 (2)
Fontbonne - 34
Westminster - 33
Greenville - 26
Iowa Wesleyan - 15
Eureka - 13
Blackburn - 11
Blue Jay Junior Mason Kirkweg, who was the 2019 SLIAC Newcomer of the Year and a 2019 3rd Team All-SLIAC performer, was named to the 2020-21 Players to Watch List. He is joined on the list by junior first baseman Hayden Hirschvogel who was a 2019 3rd Team All-SLIAC performer.
The Blue Jays will begin their season on Saturday February 27th and Sunday February 28th in Topeka, Kansas. They will take on Buena Vista University in a three game series at Jerry Robertson Field. A link to the Baseball schedule can be found HERE.
The link to the official SLIAC poll and watch list release can be found HERE.