PORTSMOUTH – Baseball is receiving votes for the first time since the 2012 Preseason Poll as the Bears received four voting points in the latest NAIA Top 25 Poll. Those four voting points are the most of the Ted Tom era at Shawnee State. This voting total has the Bears ranked the equivalent of No. 41 in the latest poll. They are tied with York (Neb.) and Spring Hill (Ala.) with those four votes.
Prior to today's poll, the most voting points the Bears have received under current Head Coach Ted Tom was three during that 2012 Preseason Poll, which was also the last time Shawnee State received any votes. That ranking marked a string of four straight polls in which Shawnee State was receiving votes at the national level (2011 Poll 7, 2011 NAIA Final Regular Season, 2011 Postseason and 2012 Preseason). In total, the Bears have been receiving votes in a total of six polls under Tom.
This week could also mark another milestone for the Bears' seventh year skipper as he enters the week with 193 career victories. He needs just three more wins to become the all-time winningest manager at Shawnee State as he would pass his former Head Coach Pat Rigsby's 195 career wins he accumulated from 1995 through 2002.
Shawnee State is off to a 23-18 start, including a 10-7 record in the Mid-South Conference. That record has the Bears in a tie for second place with Campbellsville with three weekends left in the conference season. SSU has won four of its last five games and six of the last eight games.
Leading the Bears on the mound is freshman Derek Moore who is 7-1 (4-1 MSC) on the season with a 1.37 ERA, while returnees Cody Strayer and Zak Esposito have each picked up two wins during the conference schedule. Mason Wisner has added three saves and two wins out of the bullpen for the Bears during the conference schedule, while midweek starter Taylor Smith is 3-0 with a 0.68 ERA on the year.
Offensively, Shawnee State has four regulars batting over .310 during the conference schedule. Ryan Queener is batting a team-high .340 during MSC games, while Daniel Katayama (.339 avg.), Blake Maines (.324 avg.), and Todd Queener (.311) round out those four. Katayama is hitting a team-high .368 for the season. Seven different players in the Bears' lineup have homered this season, led by five long balls from Dalton Tinsley.
Baseball is currently tied for second place in the Mid-South Conference, but just one single game separates second place from sixth place. This weekend's opponent, Bluefield, will come to Branch Rickey just two games out of second place, but seventh overall in the conference.
Shawnee State is currently 9-4 this season inside Branch Rickey Park. The Bears will host 11 of its next 12 games inside the friendly confines of their home park. Up first will be a meeting with Ohio Wesleyan on Wednesday at 4 p.m. Bluefield College will be the Bears' MSC opponent this weekend in the three-game series that begins on Friday at 4 p.m.