KCAC baseball coaches vote Oklahoma Wesleyan University for first place
Eagle power topped the 2022 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll.
The reigning conference king Oklahoma Wesleyan University topped the top spot with all seven first-place votes and 84 total voting points.
The University of Ottawa (Kan.) came second (72), followed by Tabor College (Kan.) (71).
Kansas Wesleyan and McPherson (Kan.) College are tied for fourth with 60 voting points each.
OKWU got off to a 5-0 start from the start, sweeping their opponents by a combined score of 65-14.
OKWU’s offense combined to beat .341 with 12 extra hits and four sacrificed flies.
Eagle pitchers struck out 27 in 23 innings and averaged a 3.52 ERA.
“I thought the key (to pitching) was that we were in a zone,” Eagle skipper Kirk Kelley said. “We launched tons of strikes.”
The Eagle offense started off a little timid, chasing throws a little too much in early games, Kelley said.
But, during a double sweep on Monday, he said his hitters had shown more patience.
In fact, in an 18-1 against Baptist Bible, the Eagles haven’t struck once in 32 at bats.
Over the first five games, OKWU batters batted out just 12 times in 114 plate appearances, an average of once for every 9.5 at-bats.
Swinging the most massive bats for the Eagles, though first week (minimum 6 bats) are: Seth Delgado (.600 BA, 2 HR, 7 RBI), Hector Manon (.444 BA, 2 RBI), Cody Muncy (.375 BA, 2 RBI) and Julio Goncalves (.333 BA, 1 HR, 6 RBI).
The Eagles are also 5-for-5 in stolen bases, with one apiece by Delgado, Tommy Davis, Muncy, Mason Brinkley and Jesus Rojas.
“I think we used our speed,” Kelley said. “It’s exciting and we handled the basics well.”
The main downside to OKWU’s opening preview was its gauntlet work.
“Our home defense was a little sloppy,” Kelley said. “We have to clean up the little mistakes in defence. That’s the main thing right now. We played a lot of combinations and made some unusual mistakes.
Offensively, Kelley picked Goncalves, Muncy and Delgado for every turn in a “good start. We had a lot of contributions throughout the lineup.
Kelley is pretty happy to have finally kicked off the season.
“Obviously the best part is that we already have five games which have given us a great measuring stick.”
The Eagles won 49 games last season and entered the College World Series – restricted to just 10 teams nationally – for only the third time in team history.
This year’s team is obviously aiming to get back to the big dance.
Much of OKWU’s potential success – especially during the scorching days of April and May – will be its launch force.
“We have a mix,” he said of this year’s pitching stable. “That’s what makes us unique. We have right-handers, left-handers, soft pitchers and hard pitchers, so we have different looks that we can pull off.
OKWU’s scheduled games this weekend against Lyon (Ark.) College have been postponed due to the weekend snowstorm.
This article originally appeared on Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise: OKWU Baseball: Coach Likes Most What He’s Seen So Far.