The Omaha baseball team is favored to repeat as The Summit League's regular-season champion in a preseason vote among the league’s head coaches, the conference office announced Thursday.
The Mavericks received three first-place votes and a total of 15 points. South Dakota State came in second with 12 points and one first-place vote while North Dakota State had 10 points for third place. Western Illinois received the final first-place vote and totaled eight points, followed by Fort Wayne with five points.
Omaha welcomes back a pair of first-team all-league selections in senior Tyler Splichal and junior Alex Mortensen and a pair of second-team honorees with senior Brett Bass and sophomore Clayton Taylor. Bass (.301), Mortensen (.318) and Taylor (.352) all finished the 2013 campaign in the league’s top 10 in batting average.
Taylor is the league’s top returning hitter and was first in on-base percentage (.464) a year ago, while Mortensen finished second in the league in doubles (15). Sophomore Tyler Fox and junior Zach Williamsen, two right-handed pitchers, are the Mavericks' top returning hurlers. Fox finished with a 6-2 record and 3.99 ERA in his freshman campaign, while Williamsen was 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 42 strikeouts last season.
UNO capped 2013 with an overall record of 27-22 and a league mark of 20-6. The Mavericks won the regular-season title in just their first year as a member of the league and their second year as a Division I school, and it marked UNO’s first Division I conference championship in any sport.
Omaha opens the 2014 season in Knoxville, Tenn., facing Tennessee and Purdue on Friday, Feb. 14.