Feb. 12, 2013
The Big Ten Conference has released the 2013 Big Ten Baseball Preseason Coaches poll with the University of Minnesota pitted to finish fifth. Indiana, who made it to the Big Ten Tournament Championship, was selected to finish first, followed by Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota and Illinois.
Along with the coaches poll, three Golden Gophers made it to the Players to Watch list. Gopher senior Andy Henkemeyer and juniors Dan Olinger and Tom Windle were selected. As a junior, Henkemeyer held the team's second-best batting average at .314. Holding the Gopher leadoff spot in the second half of the season, Henkemeyer turned it up in the last month of the season when he hit .367. Leading the team with 86 total bases, he also held a team-best 65 hits and ranked second in RBI production (27). Hitting in the top two lineup spots the majority of the season, he led the team with 31 runs scored.
Olinger led the Gophers with a team-best .318 batting average last season. In 201 at bats, he had 77 total bases, a team-high 34 runs batted in, 13 doubles and scored 25 runs. Starting in 54 of 56 games for the Gophers, the Great Falls, Mont., native held a 14-game hit streak, had 19 multiple hit games and six multiple RBI games. In his sophomore campaign, Olinger started 26 games at first and another 27 at third base. Playing in the Cape Cod League over the summer, Olinger saw action in 36 games, had 14 RBI and .265 batting average.
Windle is making his second-straight appearance on the Big Ten Preseason Player to Watch list. Although limited in 2012 with an injury, Windle made 18 appearances and four starts as a sophomore. Holding a 3.27 earned runs average, he saw action in 12 league games, all in relief. Named Baseball America’s Big Ten Preseason Pitcher of the Year, Windle competed in the Cape Cod League and was selected to the All-Star game. In his seven games with the Brewster Whitecaps, Windle pitched 38.1 innings and had 47 strikeouts.
Minnesota opens the 2013 campaign this weekend. The Golden Gophers travel to Los Angeles and will face the No. 12 UCLA Bruins, Feb. 15-17. Friday's season opener begins at 8 p.m. CT, followed by a 4 p.m. and 3 p.m. CT tilts Saturday and Sunday.