The Dixie State baseball team was picked to finish third in the 2018 Pacific West Conference preseason coaches’ poll released on Thursday. The Trailblazers return three starting position players, two starting pitchers, 14 total letter winners and four redshirts from a 2017 squad that advanced to the NCAA West Regional final.
California Baptist received seven first-place votes and 116 total points to edge defending PacWest champion Azusa Pacific, which collected four first-place nods and 111 points to finish second in the poll. Dixie State garnered 100 points, followed by Point Loma (84 pts) in fourth, Concordia-Irvine (79 pts) in fifth and Fresno Pacific (66 pts) in sixth to round out the top half of the poll.
Dixie State senior first baseman Logan Porter and junior third baseman Bryce Feist were voted to the PacWest preseason team. In addition, Porter and Feist have been named to the 2018 NCBWA West Region second team. APU’s Pablo O’Connor was voted the conference preseason Player of the Year, while CBU’s Dylan Stowell was tabbed as the league’s preseason Pitcher of the Year.
Porter finished the 2017 season as one of 14 finalists for the Josh Willingham National MVP Award after he hit .376 with a PacWest-leading 18 doubles, 10 home runs and a Dixie State single-season record 72 RBIs.
Porter earned third-team all-PacWest honors last season even though he finished in the top seven in the conference in batting (sixth), hits (fourth), doubles, HRs (seventh), RBIs (second), slugging percentage (sixth, .634), walks (third, 33) and on-base percentage (second, .485). He reached base safely in 51 of 54 games played, 43 of those occasions via base hit with 18 multi-hit games, and he drove in at least two runs in 20 games. He also posted a .989 fielding percentage with just five errors in 473 total chances.
Feist started in 34 of 39 games played at the hot corner last season and posted a .376 batting average with six doubles, three homers, 25 RBIs and 27 runs scored. Feist hit safely in 25 of those 39 games with 13 multi-hit outings, including a pair of four-hit games against St. Martin’s and at Hawai’i Hilo. Feist also hit an even .500 (7-for-14) at the NCAA Regional with one home run, five RBIs and three runs scored.
Entering the season, Dixie State is ranked No. 15 in the 2018 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper preseason poll and No. 3 in the 2018 NCBWA West Region poll, while other national publications will be releasing preseason information later this month.
Dixie State finished the 2017 season with a 39-14-1 overall record, which included a second-place finish in both the PacWest (26-9-1) and the NCAA West Regionals. The 39 victories are the second-most in the program’s NCAA Division II era behind the record-setting 40-win campaign of 2016.
DSU makes its 2018 debut on Saturday, Feb. 3, as the Trailblazers host their annual Alumni Game at Bruce Hurst Field beginning at 1 p.m. Admission to the Alumni Game is free and open to the public. Dixie State officially opens the 2018 season with a six-game homestand against Montana State Billings and Cal State San Bernardino from Feb. 8-11.
Steve Johnson is the Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations and Collegiate Licensing at Dixie State University. For more DSU Athletics news, please visit www.dixieathletics.com and follow Dixie State on Twitter at @DixieAthletics.