APSU Sports Information
Brentwood, TN – One week before opening day of the 2016 season, Austin Peay State University’s baseball team was picked to finish third in the Ohio Valley Conference’s preseason poll of league coaches and sports information directors.
In addition, junior infielder Logan Gray was one of two players selected as the league’s Preseason Co-Player of the Year, sharing the honor with Eastern Kentucky outfielder Kyle Nowlin.Junior utility man and right-handed pitcher Alex Robles also was named to the league’s preseason team at both positions.
Gray, of Leawood, Kansas, saw his sophomore campaign cut short just as it was starting to reach full voice.
A preseason All-America selection by D1Baseball.com, he recorded 14 home runs in his final 93 at-bats before suffering a season-ending hand injury with 13 games remaining. Gray ultimately finished third in the OVC home run race, trailing Nowlin by five home runs.
He would have led all OVC hitters in slugging percentage (.752) by more than 60 points had he played enough games to qualify (he was one game shy). Gray also would have ranked eighth in batting average (.366) and on-base percentage (.461).
Looking ahead to 2016, Gray will resume his move up Austin Peay’s career home runs list. He begins his third season in a Governors uniform with 20 home runs to his credit, already the 18th most in program history.
Robles, of Tucson, Arizona, returns for his junior campaign after becoming the first OVC baseball player to receive first-team All-OVC honors twice in the same season. The right-handed pitcher finished second in the OVC’s ERA race, posting a 3.31 mark that was only 14 points behind the Southeast Missouri’s Joey Lucchesi – the league’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
For the second straight season, Robles posted a 6-3 record with all decisions coming in league play. However, he showed more control on the mound with 17 walks against 65 strikeouts in 84.1 innings pitched. Robles led the league in fewest walks allowed per nine innings (1.81) and walks and hits per inning pitched (1.01) while also ranking third in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.82).
Robles finished 2015 with a .328 batting average, ranking fifth best on the team, but tied with Gray for the team lead with 39 RBI (six Govs hitters recorded 30-plus RBI last season).
He also was patient at the plate and was one of three Govs regulars to finish with more walks (21) than strikeouts (20) at the plate (infielder Garrett Copeland and outfielder Josh Wilson were the other two)
Southeast Missouri, which has captured the last two regular-season titles, was the runaway selection to win the league’s regular-season title, receiving 19 of 22 first-place votes and 199 of 200 possible points. Jacksonville State was picked to finish second with 151 points, followed by the Governors with two first-place votes and 150 points.
Defending OVC tournament champion Morehead State (145), Belmont (134) and Tennessee Tech (one first-place vote, 126 points) were picked to finish fourth through sixth, respectively, rounding out the potential six-team OVC baseball championship field.
Under first-year head coach Travis Janssen, Austin Peay returns all 15 batters that had an at-bat during the 2015 season. The Governors offense ranked among Division I’s Top 25 in seven statistics categories – batting average (11th), doubles per game (14th), home runs per game (11th), on-base percentage (9th), runs per game (12th), slugging percentage (7th) and stolen bases per game (23rd).
The Govs pitching staff returns three starters and nine players from a unit that took steps forward in 2015. Austin Peay lowered its ERA (24 points), opponent’s batting average (28 points) and opponent’s on-base percentage (33 points). The Govs ranked second among OVC pitching staffs in opponent’s batting average (.264) and fewest hits allowed per nine innings (9.26).
Austin Peay begins its 2016 campaign when it hosts Bradley in a three-game series starting with a 3:30pm, Friday, February 19th contest at Raymond C. Hand Park. It is the first of a 30-game home slate in 2016 that also will feature NCAA tournament participant Missouri State, defending OVC champion Southeast Missouri and Big 12 foe Oklahoma.
The Governors 2016 OVC slate begins Friday, March 11th, when APSU hosts Eastern Illinois in a three-game series. The 30-game league race will decide which six teams will advance to the OVC Baseball Championship, which will be held May 25th-29th at The Ballpark at Jackson in Jackson, Tennessee for the seventh consecutive year.