Augustana puts six on All-NSIC baseball team, earns top seed in conference tournament
The Vikings won the regular season NSIC title for second straight season.
SIOUX FALLS — Augustana University won its second straight NSIC regular season baseball title this spring, and on Tuesday the conference rewarded the Vikings with a league-high five first-team All-NSIC selections and six total all-conference honorees.
Catcher Drey Dirksen, outfielder Nick Banowetz and pitchers Adam Diedrich (11 saves), Seth Miller (8-1, 2.85 ERA) and Caleb Saari (5-2, 2.70) were all named to the first team Shortstop Jack Hines (.379 average, 20 steals) picked up a second team selection. Dirksen, who batted .357 with 13 home runs was also named to the league's all-defensive team for his work behind the plate. Banowetz batted .357 and stole 31 bases.
USF outfielder Brady Klehr was the only first-team selection from the University of Sioux Falls. He batted .387 with five homers.
Minnesota Crookston dominated the individual awards, as Jake Hjelle was named league MVP, Alex Koep earned pitcher of the year, Mike Hallquist was named top newcomer and Josh Dykhoff earned freshman of the year. Southwest Minnesota State's Paul Blanchard was named coach of the year.
The Vikings are the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament after winning the league with a 28-7 record. The double-elimination tournament is hosted by the University of Mary in Mandan and Bismarck, N.D. The winner receives an automatic bid to the Division II NCAA tournament. The Vikings were ranked 6th in the latest regional rankings, and the top eight go to the regionals, so an at-large bid is in play for the Vikings, who face 8th-seeded Wayne State on Wednesday at noon in the tourney opener.
The Vikings, who were 2018 national champions, are pursuing their fifth straight appearance in the national tournament.
NSIC baseball tournament pairings
(1) Augustana vs. (8) Wayne State, Noon
(5) SMSU vs. (4) St. Cloud State, Noon
(7) Winona State vs. (2) MSU-Mankato, 6 p.m.
(6) Minot State vs. (3) UM-Crookston, 6 p.m.