Dixie State was picked to finish third in the 2019 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference baseball preseason coaches’ poll released on Thursday. The Trailblazers, who will make their RMAC debut this season, return seven starting position players, one starting pitcher, 21 total letterwinners and two redshirts from a 2018 squad that finished the year with a 25-25 record.
Defending RMAC regular season and tournament champion Colorado Mesa collected eight of a possible 10 first-place votes to claim the top spot in the poll with 80 points, while 2018 conference runner-up Colorado School of Mines tallied 69 points to finish second. Dixie State picked up the other two first-place votes and 64 total points to secure the third spot, and Colorado State-Pueblo and MSU Denver each finished with 49 points to tie for fourth to round out the top half of the 10-team poll.
Two-time Pacific West Conference Coach of the Year Chris Pfatenhauer (204-106-1 at DSU) begins his seventh season as head coach of the Dixie State baseball program. Since his arrival in the summer of 2012, Pfatenhauer has never had a losing season at Dixie State, and in the process, he's led the Trailblazers to consecutive PacWest titles in 2014 and 2015 and to five-straight trips (six straight overall) to the NCAA West Regionals from 2013-17, including serving as the host institution in 2013.
While no Trailblazer position player or pitcher was named to the preseason all-RMAC team, sophomore second baseman Tyler Hollow did earn 2019 NCBWA preseason second-team all-South Central Region honors, which was announced on Wednesday. Hollow batted .350 during his rookie season with six doubles, 15 RBIs and 22 runs scored. Meanwhile, Dixie State enters the 2019 campaign ranked No. 7 in the NCBWA South Central Region preseason poll.
In addition to Hollow, DSU returns third-team all-PacWest pick Joe Raymond, who batted .327 with 11 doubles, one home run, 23 RBIs and 31 runs scored last season, along with senior third baseman Bryce Feist (.243/four HR/18 RBIs), sophomore infielder Alec Flemetakis (.290/five HR/27 RBIs) and outfielders Kade Urban (.351/11 RBIs) and Jagun Leavitt (.301/13 RBIs/11 SB).Comment on this story
Senior right-hander Jayden Murray returns to the Blazers’ rotation after he posted a 3-5 record with 46 strikeouts last season, while redshirt junior right-hander Preston Hannay is coming back after missing the 2018 campaign due to injury. DSU also welcomes back its top-two relievers in sophomores Jack Gonzales (LHP, 0-0/3.52 ERA/14 K) and Jimmy Borzone (RHP, 3-0/4.13 ERA/27 K).
Dixie State wrapped up the 2018 season with a 25-25 overall record, which included a 21-19 mark and a tied for fourth place finish in its final season of Pacific West Conference play.
DSU officially opens the 2019 campaign with a four-game trip to Cal State San Bernardino on Feb. 1-3, where the Trailblazers will play three games vs. Saint Martin’s and one game vs. CSUSB. Dixie State will then kick off its 26-game home slate against Northwest Nazarene on Thursday, Feb. 6.