Baseball picked last in preseason poll


KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Fort Hays State baseball team was picked 12th in the 2023 MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll, released Friday (Jan. 20) by the league office.

Defending league champion Central Missouri is ranked atop the poll with 121 points, while Pittsburg State ranked second with 100 points. Northeastern State (97 points), Central Oklahoma (94 points) and Washburn (85 points) round out the top five.

First-year head coach Justin Wichert enters the new year with 14 returners and 22 newcomers, including 17 transfers and five true freshmen. The Tigers return one All-MIAA performer in Jenner Kehe, who earned honorable mention status after leading the team in hits (49), runs (36), walks (26), on-base percentage (.391) and stolen bases (12) last season. FHSU also returns several players that regularly appeared in the starting lineup last season, including Ed ScottBrady KreutzerTraelon YarbroughTico OlivasMikey Felton and Ridge StephensJake Campbelland Zach Berg return from last year’s rotation while Dustin Menard and Cade Flaherty are back after regularly coming out of the bullpen a year ago. The full 2023 Tiger baseball roster can be found here.

Wichert is in his first season in the Tiger dugout after spending four years as head coach at Trinidad State College in Trinidad, Colo. The Stillwater, Okla. native led the Trojans to a record of 112-83 from 2019 until 2022, including two trips to the postseason. His squad reached the Region IX title game last season and hosted the 2019 regional tournament before playing in the district tournament that year. TSC turned in a record of 44-17 a year ago, ranking third in NJCAA DII with a team batting average of .388.

The 2023 season is slated to start in just two weeks when the Tigers travel to Colorado Springs, Colo. to meet up with Adams State on February 3 and 4. FHSU will also travel to play New Mexico Highlands (Feb. 10-11) and Regis (Feb. 17-19) on the road before entering conference play with their home opener on Friday, February 24 against Washburn.

The Tigers are scheduled to play 21 home games at historic Larks Park across 19 dates, including five weekend conference series against Washburn (Feb. 24-26), Rogers State (March 10-12), Pittsburg State (March 24-26), Missouri Southern (March 31-April 2) and Northwest Missouri State (April 21-23). FHSU will also host a pair of midweek league matchups against Newman (March 14, April 11) and a pair of non-conference doubleheaders against Wayne State (March 1) and Rockhurst (March 21). Click here to view the full 2023 Tiger baseball schedule.

2023 MIAA Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Central Missouri – 121 Points [11 First Place Votes]
2. Pittsburg State – 100 Points
3. Northeastern State – 97 Points [1 First Place Vote]
4. Central Oklahoma – 94 Points
5. Washburn – 85 Points
6. Missouri Southern – 77 Points
7. Rogers State – 60 Points
8. Northwest Missouri – 45 Points
9. Emporia State – 43 Points
10. Newman – 33 Points
11. Missouri Western – 26 Points
12. Fort Hays State – 11 Points

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