As promised, here is the second part of the 2010 Great West baseball preview.
University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux
Location: Grand Forks, ND
Colors: kelly green and white
Coach: Jeff Dodson, 2nd season at UND
2009 Record: 14-29
Top Returning Hitter: INF Jake Magner, .393 avg, 10 HR, 51 rbi, 66 hits
Top Returning Pitcher: David Lind, 4-3 5.83 ERA
Outlook: The Fighting Sioux have a fighting chance to challenge UNC for fourth place in the conference. Besides Magner, OF Aaron Cook (.328 avg, 27 rbi) and IF Andrew Gundmunson (.314, 25 rbi) lead the offense. After them UND needs help. Pitching will once again be a strong point for the Sioux as they bring back Lind and strikeout leader Derek Bermaier (45k, 62 IP). They are a young team so they should get stronger for the next few seasons.
Houston Baptist Huskies
Location: Houston, TX
Colors: royal blue and orange
Coach: Jared Moon, 5th season at HBU
2009 Record: 11-40
Top Returning Hitter: INF Robbie Buller, .297 avg., 38 hits, 20 rbi
Top Returning Pitcher: Stephen Nikonchik, 1-3 8.39 ERA, 39.2 IP, 29 Ks.
Outlook: Since returning from NAIA where HBU was a powerhouse, the Huskies have struggled. Which they will do again this season. With only 9 of their 27 players being upperclassmen, there is nowhere to go but up.
New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders
Location: Newark, NJ
Colors: red and white
Coach: Brian Callahan, 10th season at NJIT
2009 Record: 4-33
Top Returning Hitter: OF Anthony Caiola, .400 avg,
Top Returning Pitcher: Reid Okita, 1-6 9.96 ERA
Outlook: NJIT is a young team which is a lot like HBU. They need help to raise their team batting average (.232). They need help everywhere, if Okita can lead the pitching staff, and hitters like Vincent Del Vecchio come around, NJIT could have a season to build upon for the future.
Chicago State University Cougars
Location: Chicago, IL
Colors: forest green and white
Coach: Michael Caston, 2nd season at CSU
2009 Record: 3-38
Top Returning Hitter: OF Pat Hernandez, .336 avg, 41 hits, 10 rbi
Top Returning Pitcher: Kevin Hussey, 1-1 8.46 ERA
Outlook: The Cougars have no where to go but up. They had a .237 team batting average last season, and allowed an average of 13 runs per game in ’09. If their offense can score more than 3 runs per game, CSU may leave NJIT in the cellar of the GWC.
GWC 2010 Preseason Co-players of the Year: 3B Jace Brinkerhoff, Utah Valley, INF Abraham Garcia, Texas-Pan Am.
GWC 2010 Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Andrew Guarrasi, NYIT
GWC 2010 Preseason Coach of the Year: Bob Hirschfield, NYIT
2010 Predicted Order of Finish:
2. Texas Pan-Am
3. Utah Valley
4. Northern Colorado
5. North Dakota
6. Houston Baptist
8. Chicago State
For complete coverage of the 2010 Great West baseball season check www.examiner.com/x-36143-Fort-Collins-Baseball-Examiner.