The Missouri Southern baseball team will open the 2022 season tomorrow as the Lions play at Southwestern Oklahoma State. First pitch from Weatherford is set for 1 pm Tuesday afternoon.
The Lions were recently picked to finish fifth in the MIAA preseason baseball coaches poll. The Lions finished third last season with a 30-13 overall mark and a 22-11 mark in MIAA play. Southern returns 11 position players and seven pitchers from a season ago, including five players that were either All-MIAA last season or have been in their career.
Tommy Stevenson was the MIAA Freshman of the Year last year after hitting .326 with 19 doubles, 13 home runs and 51 RBIs. Stevenson was also an All-MIAA pick after finishing second in the MIAA and tenth nationally in doubles, while ranking third in the MIAA in RBIs and fourth in total bases.
Jordan Fitzpatrick was an All-MIAA selection as he led the league in doubles and ranked sixth nationally in that category. Last season, Fitzpatrick hit .369 with 20 doubles, 14 home runs and 48 RBIs, the majority of those stats coming out of the lead-off spot for the Lions. Fitzpatrick also led the MIAA in hits per game and doubles per game, while ranking third in RBIs per game.
Henry Kusiak was another stellar freshman for the Lions as the third basemen hit .341 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs, earning All-MIAA honors. Kusiak was one of four Lions to rank in the top-ten in the MIAA in home runs last season. He also ranked 10th in the MIAA in both RBIs and total bases.
Scott Duensing was an All-MIAA pick for the Lions out of the bullpen as the lefty posted a 3-3 record with a save and 30 strikeouts in 31.2 innings pitched, while walking just six batters.
Logan VanWey was an All-MIAA selection in 2018 as a freshmen and saw action in nine games last year after sitting out the beginning of the season recovering from injury. The fireballer closer for Southern, VanWey currently sits in second in career saves as a Lion with 15.
In total, the Lions have seven seniors and eight juniors on the roster. Chase Beiter saw action for the Lions as both a starter and relief pitcher, while Clay Milas started in the outfield as well.
SWOSU was picked to finish seventh in the Great American Conference preseason poll. The Bulldogs were 21-18 in 2021 and 17-16 in GAC play, giving them the No. 8 seed going into the postseason conference tournament. Head Coach Zack Saunders is now in his 11th season at the helm of the program, having guided SWOSU to eight winning seasons and six top-four finishes in the Great American Conference.
Live stats and live video will be available and links to each are in the story links above.
The Lions will be back at home this Sunday, Feb. 6 and Monday, Feb. 7, playing host to Winona State in a three-game set.