#1 MISSOURI STATE BEARS
- Missouri State welcomes back seven position players with over 100 at-bats and 10 pitchers from a team that finished the season with a 40-17 record, en route to capturing the MVC regular season and tournament titles. The Bears ended the season in the NCAA Regional with a loss to Tennessee Tech.
- Missouri State became just the second Valley school to win back-to-back regular-season titles, joining Wichita State. The Bears also set a record for the best two-year record in Valley history (since moving to expanded MVC schedule in 1985). MSU posted a 36-4 (.900) mark over the last two seasons in MVC play.
- Preseason All-American Drew Millas returns to bolster an offense that averaged over six runs per contest last spring, despite registering its lowest team batting mark (.258) as a Division I club. Millas posted career-best numbers in nearly every offensive category, including team-leading totals for hits (68) and RBI (61) to earn a second-team All-America nod from the NCBWA.
- The Bears pitching staff also returns a deep pool of talent, led by 2018 freshman All-America picks Ty Buckner and Connor Sechler
#2 DBU PATRIOTS
- DBU returns three position starters and 14 pitchers from last season's 42-21 squad that finished second in the MVC standings and the runner-up in the MVC tournament. The Patriots earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.
- DBU eclipsed 40 wins once again, marking the fifth straight 40-win season for the Patriots, joining Florida, Florida State and Louisville as the only programs to accomplish the feat.
- DBU tied a school-record with seven players selected in the 2018 Major League Draft and welcome 20 newcomers to the roster this year.
- DBU returns the MVC Freshman of the Year and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in Jimmy Glowenke. In 63 starts last year at shortstop, Glowenke hit .336 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI, while committing just five errors in 239 chances in the field.
- The Patriots return three key pieces to the backend of their bullpen in Jarod Bayless, MacGregor Hines, and Kragen Kechely. The trio combined for 15 wins, 12 saves, and struck out 189 batters in 155.2 innings.
#3 INDIANA STATE SYCAMORES
- Indiana State returns eight position starters and three key pitchers from last season's 31-24 team.
- Seniors Clay Dungan and Jarrod Watkins combined for 135 base hits and 21 stolen bases last season. Dungan started all 55 games for the Sycamores, hitting .283 to go with a .369 slugging percentage. He also finished as the team leader in doubles with 14. Watkins was one of four Sycamores to finish over .300 in the box with a .304 average as the leadoff man. In total, Watkins finished with 12 doubles, a pair of triples and 18 RBI.
- On the mound, Indiana State brings back left-handers Triston Polley and Tristan Weaver to go along with right-hander Tyler Ward. The trio started 37 games a year ago and combined for 224.2 innings of action. Polley finished 2018 with a 7-2 overall record to go along with a 3.53 earned run average while Ward went 6-3 with a 3.66 ERA, striking out 55 and walking just 13 batters.
#4 BRADLEY BRAVES
- Bradley returns six position starters and six key pitchers from its 2018 team that finished 32-19.
- For the second consecutive year, Bradley returns its top three hitters from the previous season. Bradley has not returned its top three hitters in consecutive years since 1993 (40-16) and 1994 (35-26).
- Junior third baseman Brendan Dougherty (.323 in 2018) and junior shortstop Luke Shadid (.325) both return as top three team hitters in both of the last two seasons. Senior outfielder Andy Shadid led the Braves last year, hitting .326 with 36 runs scored, 13 doubles, six home runs and 30 RBI.
- Senior RHP Mitch Janssen (16 starts), senior LHP Cole Cook (13) and senior RHP Sam Lund (13) all return for the 2019 campaign. In the previous 118 years of Bradley Baseball, the Braves have never rolled out a staff that featured three hurlers who all started at least 13 games the previous season.
#5 SOUTHERN ILLINOIS SALUKIS
- Southern Illinois welcomes back six position starters and four key pitchers from last year's 28-30 team.
- Alex Lyon will be the anchor of the Salukis lineup after hitting .316 with 31 runs scored, 11 doubles, five home runs and 40 RBI. Nikola Vasic also returns after earning honorable mention All-MVC accolades in 2018. Vasic hit .276 with 49 runs scored, eight doubles, four triples, three home runs and 29 RBI.
- Last season, the Salukis led MVC and ranked fourth nationally in stolen bases with 131 on the season and led MVC and ranked 9th nationally in shutouts. SIU lost last year’s active career stolen base leader in Connor Kopach but gained the active career stolen base stealer in Will LaRue, who transferred from Xavier.
#6 ILLINOIS STATE REDBIRDS
- Illinois State returns six position starters and five key pitchers with over 35 innings of work from last year's 22-30 squad.
- Illinois State is under new direction as first year head coach Steve Holm takes over the Redbirds.
- Junior center fielder John Rave returns for the Redbirds coming off a second team All-MVC honor and all-defensive selection a season ago where he slashed .347/.402/.571 leading the team in home runs with eight and RBI with 49.
- The Redbirds return a very experienced pitching staff as the team returns starters from 49 of their 52 games a season ago.
#7 VALPARAISO CRUSADERS
- Valparaiso returns four position player starters and three key pitchers with over 30 innings of work from last season's 19-34 team.
- Valpo had four wins against teams that finished the season in the Top 50 nationally in RPI in 2018. The team beat DBU twice including a 13-10 victory on the Patriots’ home field in Valpo’s first-ever MVC Tournament game. The other Top 50 wins came against Oklahoma and Illinois.
- Valpo will look to sustain its offensive success in 2019 after ranking in the Top 5 in program history in doubles, home runs and walks last season. The home run total was Valpo’s highest since 2002, while the team had a .404 slugging percentage, its best since 2010.
- Senior outfielder Blake Billinger led the way with a .323 average at the plate with 40 runs scored, 23 doubles, seven home runs and 46 RBI.
#8 EVANSVILLE PURPLE ACES
- Evansville returns five position starters and five key pitchers from its 2018 team that finished 12-39.
- The Aces return four of their top five hitters from last season, led by junior outfielder Troy Beilsmith. Beilsmith hit .335 with 42 runs scored, 18 doubles, seven home runs and 28 RBI for the Aces in 2018.
- The Aces pitching staff returns with four of their top strikeout hurlers from a year ago, led by seniors Alex Weigand and Austin Allinger. Weigand started 15 games with 48 strikeouts in 58.1 innings of work, while Allinger added 47 punch outs in 49.1 innings.