“I think it all starts on the mound. We started pitching better and then defense has been kind of an issue for us throughout the year, and our defense started playing a lot better. It goes hand in hand when you pitch well, defense is a lot easier when you’re not pitching well.”
After a slow start to the season that saw the Bison win eight of its first 30 games, postseason hopes hung in the balance. As injuries began to heal and the schedule keeping the Bison in Fargo for the last month of the season, NDSU ripped off a seven-game winning streak to position themselves back in the hunt. On the final day of the season, on an Andy Wicklund 12th inning walk-off single against Omaha, the Bison clinched fourth place in the conference and were on their way back to its fifth consecutive Summit League Tournament.
Junior college transfer Taylor Sanders has provided some much-needed production in the middle of the Bison lineup. Mostly from the designated hitter position, Sanders’ slugging percentage was .432 and he had a .344 batting average. Catcher Juan Gomez also transferred into the Bison program this year and led the team with eight home runs. He also threw out 14 runners trying to steal.
The Future is Now
Sophomore centerfielder Ben Petersen had a big responsibility put on his plate at the beginning of the season. He was asked to replace the 2014 Summit League Player of the Year Tim Colwell in the outfield. Petersen came into the season with 67 at-bats under his belt, but only a .194 average to show for it. This year was Petersen’s official coming out party. He hit .355 this season with an on-base percentage of .422 and solidified himself as the team’s No. 3 hitter.
Chew on This
The Bison ranked sixth in the country and led the Summit League in turning double plays this season with 53. After a slow start in the field, the Bison infield locked down around the horn thanks to third baseman John Skrbec, shortstop Paul Funk and second baseman Andy Wicklund. The Bison finished the season with a .952 fielding percentage.