College Preview

2006 Mid-Continent Conference Preview




HOW THEY'LL FINISH




Conference

Overall


W
L
W
L
1. +Oral Roberts
22
2
42
20
2. Southern Utah
12
10
26
28
3. Western Illinois
14
10
24
34
4. Centenary
12
12
27
30
5. Oakland
9
15
14
38
6. Valparaiso
10
12
21
31
7. Chicago State
3
21
6
50
(2005 records listed; 2006 national ranking in parentheses)
+ 2005 conference tournament champion; NCAA regional participants in boldface

Projected NCAA Teams (1): Oral Roberts.
Conference Schedule: 24 games. Schedule begins April 8.
Conference Tournament: Four teams, May 25-27 at Tulsa, Okla. (Oral Roberts).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
* 2005 conference leader

C—Andy Bouchie, Jr., Oral Roberts (.310-4-23 at Riverside, Calif., CC). 1B—Mike Arensdorff, Jr., Valparaiso (*.382-4-43). 2B—Jake Kahaulelio, Jr., Oral Roberts (.350-2-34 at Santa Rosa, Calif., JC). 3B—Jeff Oliverson, Sr., Southern Utah (.325-9-29). SS—Ryan Schmidgall, Sr., Western Illinois (.316-2-40). OF—Amos Burgess, Sr., Southern Utah (did not play); Kelly Minissale, So., Oral Roberts (.292-3-21); Justin Sotelo, Sr., Southern Utah (.332-5-25). DH—Chad Rothford, Jr., Oral Roberts (.369-6-56 at Fresno CC). P—Dan Greenwalt, Sr., Oral Roberts (5-3, 2.38, 4 SV); Nick Jones, Sr., Oral Roberts (8-2, 2.30); Taylor McIntyre, Sr., Oral Roberts (8-6, 3.27, 96 IP/96 SO).

Player of the Year: Nick Jones, rhp, Oral Roberts.

Top Newcomer: Andy Bouchie, c, Oral Roberts.

PROJECTED TOP PROSPECTS, 2006-07 DRAFTS

1. Nick Jones, rhp, Oral Roberts.
2. Andy Bouchie, c, Oral Roberts.
3. Jake Kahaulelio, 2b, Oral Roberts.

SHORT HOPS

• Oral Roberts has won the last eight Mid-Continent Conference titles, going 128-8 in conference play over the last six years, and will be heavily favored again this year despite a major roster turnover. The Golden Eagles will have seven new everyday players in their lineup, led by three prominent junior college transfers from California, including junior 2B Jake Kahaulelio, who led Santa Rosa to the California juco title. Kahaulelio will team up with all-conference OF Tim Torres (.309-3-30), who moves in to shortstop, where he replaces conference player of the year Michael Hollimon (.304-14-55). The pitching staff will also get a boost with the transfer of former Arizona RHP Sean Jarrett (2-2, 5.55).

• Second-year Southern Utah coach David Eldredge has strong roots in Hawaii, where he grew up, and has tapped into his homeland for a significant roster upgrade. His ace is expected to be senior RHP Larry Ellenbrook, who went 0-1, 11.50 in five appearances last year at Hawaii. In addition, freshmen Chester Wilson and Kelii Zabian, both from Honolulu’s St. Louis High, are slated to step in at first and second base. The biggest addition to the Thunderbirds roster, however, should be the return of senior OF Amos Burgess, who hit .372-11-50 in 2004 before sitting out last year with a wrist injury.

• Western Illinois, coming off two straight second-place finishes but seeking its first winning season since 1989, opens a new ball park this year, 4,000-seat Alfred D. Boyer Stadium. The Leathernecks tapped into two WIU alums, Paul and Rick Reuschel, both former big league pitchers, and current Washington Nationals infielder Rick Short, another former WIU player, to help finance the facility. Senior LHP Bobby Mahon (1-1, 3.18), the Central Illinois Collegiate League closer of the year, and senior RHP/SS Ryan Schmidgall (2-2, 4.72), whose fastball ranges from 89-92 mph, will anchor a solid WIU rotation.

• Oakland has a new coach, former Michigan State assistant Dylan Putnam, 26. Putnam is the older brother of prominent Michigan freshman Zach Putnam, who will see extensive service for the Wolverines as both a power-hitting first and third baseman and as a starting pitcher. Unfortunately, for the elder Putnam, Nate Recknagel (.351-5-30) decided to join the young Putnam at Michigan as a transfer after earning all-conference honors for Oakland as a freshman.