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2008 IOWA CONFERENCE BASEBALL PREVIEW

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Luther picked 1st, BVU 8th

Luther College, which earned a share of its 12th Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) baseball title last year, is atop the 2008 IIAC Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll.

The Norse received eight first-place votes for a total of 72 points.

Wartburg College, which tied Luther last year for a share of its 11th consecutive league title, received the remaining first-place votes and is second in the Poll with 65 points. Central College is third in the Poll with 55 points after receiving two second-place votes, three third-place votes, and three fourth-place votes.

Loras sits fourth with 46 points, just ahead of Simpson with 42. The Duhawks received three third-place votes and three fourth-place votes.

The Beavers were picked eighth.

A glance at Buena Vista and Luther follows.

AROUND THE HORN

Conference Schedule: The Conference schedule was expanded to 24 games in 2007. Schools will play a three-game series against each Conference opponent. Two of those series will be weekday series with a seven-inning doubleheader on Tuesday and a single nine-inning game the following Wednesday at opposite sites. The remaining series will be played on Friday-Saturday at the same site. A single nine-inning game will be played on Friday followed by a seven-inning doubleheader on Saturday.

Conference Tournament: The 2008 Iowa Conference baseball tournament hosted by Simpson College will be held May 8-10 in Cedar Rapids. The top two teams from the regular season will receive a first-round bye and the tournament schedule will feature four games on Thursday, four games on Friday and two, possibly three, games on Saturday. The No. 3 seed will play the No. 6 seed at 1 p.m. Thursday at Veterans Memorial Stadium with the winner playing the No. 2 seed at 4 p.m. at Veterans. The No. 4 seed will play the No. 5 seed at 1 p.m. on Thursday at Daniels Park (home field of Coe College) with the winner advancing to play the top-seed at 7:00 p.m. at Veterans. All remaining games are scheduled to be played at Veterans Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's Midwest League affiliate, Cedar Rapids Kernels.

ABOUT THE BEAVERS

2007 Record: 18-26 overall, 11-11 IIAC (6th)

Starting Position Players Returning/Lost: 3/6

Pitchers Returning/Lost: 7/5

Players to Watch

* Jeff Weisenborn, Sr., OF - In 2007, Weisenborn finished second on the team in hitting with a .333 batting average with four doubles, a home run and eight RBI. Weisenborn also made six appearances on the mound last season, compiling a 1-0 record with a 17.05 earned run average.

* Michael Stephenson, So., IF - A Second Team All-Iowa Conference selection last season, Stephenson hit .351 with two doubles, two triples, 15 RBI, and five stolen bases. Also committed only four errors in 125 chances at second base, ranking 12th in the league with 79 assists.

* Mark Blum, So., IF - Blum hit .317 in 28 games (all starts) with five doubles, a triple, 22 RBI, and four stolen bases. He also pitched 17.0 innings in 10 appearances, accumulating a 1-1 record with a 7.94 earned-run average.

Says BVU head coach Steve Eddie: "It seems everyone in the league has a veteran team, except for us. We will need to spend a lot of time working on the most basic of fundamentals, and focus on developing our young players throughout the course of the season."

ABOUT THE FAVORITE

2007 Record: 31-11 overall, 18-5 IIAC (t-1st)

Starting Position Players Returning/Lost: 5/3

Pitchers Returning/Lost: 11/1

Players to Watch

* Jeff Hiatt, Sr., SS - A Second Team All-Central Region and Second Team All-Iowa Conference selection in 2007, Hiatt started all 42 games, hitting .366 with 36 RBI and four home runs. His RBI total ranked fifth in the IIAC.

* Adam Kohls, Jr., RHP - A First Team All-IIAC and Second Team All-Region honoree, Kohls appeared in 13 games, starting 10, and posted an 8-1 record with a 2.55 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 77.2 innings. His ranked in the top ten in the IIAC in ERA (fifth), innings pitched (fourth), strikeouts (seventh), wins (tie, second), and opposing batting average (third, .223).

* Nathan Todd, Jr., RHP - Todd appeared in 13 games in 2007 going 8-3-1 with a 2.40 ERA and 58 strikeouts, ranking second in the IIAC in strikeouts and fourth in ERA. He started a team-high 12 games and held opponents to a .250 batting average.

* Jacob Waddle, Jr., C/OF - Waddle, a First Team All-Conference selection, started 39 of 41 games for the Norse, hitting a league-high .395 with 58 hits, 40 runs scored and 32 RBI. He ranked in the IIAC's top six in slugging percentage (sixth, .578) and on-base percentage (second, .483).

Says Luther head coach Brian Gillogly: "With several position players and pitchers back from last year's team we should be solid in the areas of pitching and defense. We will need to develop our hitting depth and be efficient on the base paths to be one of the top teams in the conference. Hopefully last year's experience will give us the confidence to once again be in the conference race at the end of the year."



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