By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – With one week remaining before the Tennessee Tech baseball team begins the defense of its 2017 Ohio Valley Conference title, the league announced both its predicted order of finish and Preseason All-OVC Baseball Team.
In a vote of OVC head baseball coaches and sports information directors, the Golden Eagles were selected to repeat as champions in 2018. Tech claimed 15 of the 22 top votes for a total of 192 points in the poll.
Among the 14 players selected to the Preseason All-OVC Team, five represent the Golden Eagles, the most in the league. Seniors Trevor Putzig, Chase Chambers, and Travis Moths, as well as juniors Kevin Strohschein and Ethan Roberts were all selected to the team.
A year ago, Tech won 23 league and a program-record 41 total games while capturing its fourth OVC Tournament Championship. The Golden Eagles, who won a game against host and eventual College World Series participant Florida State in the NCAA Regional, had one of the most potent offenses nationally a year ago, ranking second nationally in hits (723), home runs/game (1.60) and slugging (.520), third in runs (504), fourth in doubles (2.32/game) and fifth in scoring (8.1/game).
This season 15th year head coach Matt Bragga returns several key players from that lineup including third baseman Trevor Putzig (.394, 93 hits, 23 doubles, 52 RBI), first baseman Chase Chambers (.299, 73 hits, 18 home runs, 61 RBI) and outfielder (and 2016 OVC Player of the Year) Kevin Strohschein (.292, 77 hits, 14 home runs, 60 RBI), each of who were named to the Preseason All-OVC Team.
The squad also returns right-handed hurler Travis Moths (5-1, 3.88 ERA, 69 strikeouts in 19 appearances) who will make the transition into the starting rotation this season, and closer Ethan Roberts who had a league-best and program-record 13 saves a season ago.
The Golden Eagles will officially kick off the 2018 campaign with a three-game series at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex beginning Friday, Feb. 16 at 3:00 p.m. CT.
2018 OVC Baseball Predicted Order of Finish
1. Tennessee Tech (15 first-place votes) – 192 points
2. Morehead State (5) – 181
3. Jacksonville State (1) – 156
4. Belmont (1) – 148
5. Southeast Missouri – 115
6. Murray State – 104
7. Austin Peay – 103
8. Eastern Illinois – 62
9. SIUE – 57
10. UT Martin – 52
11. Eastern Kentucky - 42
2018 Preseason All-OVC Baseball Team
Preseason OVC Player of the Year: Niko Hulsizer (OF), Morehead State
Preseason OVC Pitcher of the Year: Dylan King (RHP), Belmont
C - Brock Weimer, SIUE
1B - Chase Chambers, Tennessee Tech
2B - Jimmy Govern, Eastern Illinois
SS - David Garza, Tennessee Tech
3B - Eli Boggess, Morehead State
OF - Niko Hulsizer, Morehead State
OF - Kevin Strohschein, Tennessee Tech
OF - Joseph Duncan, Eastern Illinois
DH - Dougie Parks, Eastern Illinois
UT - Alex Holderbach, Eastern Kentucky
SP - Dylan King, Belmont
SP - Derrick Adams, Jacksonville State
SP - Travis Moths, Tennessee Tech
RP - Ethan Roberts, Tennessee Tech
Photo by Tony Marable