Bears Set to Open 2015 Baseball Campaign at SFA Tipton Ford Classic

Bears Set to Open 2015 Baseball Campaign at SFA Tipton Ford Classic

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Feb. 11, 2015

Missouri State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Games 1-3 | Missouri State Bears (0-0) at SFA Tipton Ford Classic
Schedule Friday, Feb. 13 vs. UT Arlington | 3 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14 at Stephen F. Austin | 6 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 15 vs. Washington State | 12 p.m.
Location Jaycees Field (1,000) | Nacogdoches, Texas
Live Video
SFA Tipton Ford Classic
Tournament Central
Radio KBFL AM 1060 with Rob Evans
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Live Stats | Baseball Home Page
Connect @MSUBearBaseball | @MissouriStBears | Bears on Facebook | Bears on Instagram
All-Time Series
UTA leads MSU 9-8 | MSU leads SFA 2-0 | First meeting between MSU and WSU
Up Next
Missouri State will travel to Little Rock, Ark., next Saturday (Feb. 21) for single games against Iowa (12 p.m.) and UALR (3:30 p.m.) at Gary Hogan Field.
Prime 9
  • Missouri State will be looking for its third consecutive opening day win Friday; the Bears are 20-12 in openers under head coach Keith Guttin and 32-19 overall in season lid-lifters
  • The Bears were picked to finish second in the MVC preseason poll, 10 points behind league favorite Dallas Baptist
  • MSU brings a combined 10-9 record against the field into this weekend's tournament; the Bears are 2-0 vs. host Stephen F. Austin, while UT Arlington holds a slim 9-8 edge over MSU; the Bears and Cougars have never met
  • Guttin ranks 13th among all active Division I head coaches with 1,089 victories in his 32 years at MSU
  • Tate Matheny enters 2015 as a consensus preseason All-America choice following a breakout sophomore year in which he clubbed 10 homers and batted .330 before earning a Team USA roster spot over the summer
  • In addition to Matheny, both Dylan Becker and Jon Harris were preseason All-MVC picks
  • Shortstop Joey Hawkins set MSU single-season records for assists (185) and sacrifice hits (19) last season; the Bears' co-captain is just 16 SAC's shy of the Missouri Valley Conference record for career sacrifices
  • The Bears are 44-50 all-time in games played on Texas soil; this year marks the fourth time in five seasons MSU will open in the Lone Star State
  • MSU posted an MVC-leading .972 team fielding percentage last spring and has recorded three of the top four single-season fielding marks in school history over the last three seasons
Leading Off

The Missouri State Bears will open the 2015 season this weekend when they travel to Nacogdoches, Texas, to take part in the four-team SFA Tipton Ford Classic at Jaycees Field. The Bears will battle the UT Arlington Mavericks at 3 p.m. Friday (Feb. 13), before taking on the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at 6 p.m. Saturday, and the Washington State Cougars Sunday at 12 p.m.

This weekend's action begins a road-heavy first month of the season for MSU, which will play its first seven games and 16 of its first 20 contests overall away from home. The Bears will continue their early road trip next Saturday in Little Rock, Ark., with single contests against Iowa (12 p.m.) and UALR at Gary Hogan Field.

Series Histories

The Bears enter the weekend with a combined 10-9 record against the field of the SFA Tipton Ford Classic. UT Arlington holds a narrow 9-8 edge over the Bears after posting a 6-5 victory over MSU last March in Arlington. MSU has a track record of success against the Sun Belt Conference, with a 61-39 all-time record against the current membership of the league.

The Bears are a perfect 2-0 against host SFA, sweeping a pair of games from the Lumberjacks at the 2012 UTA Hilton Classic in Arlington. Missouri State has 50 wins in 97 total games against Southland Conference foes. MSU will be taking on Washington State for the first time on the baseball diamond Sunday, but the Pac-12 Conference has been a tough proposition for MSU over the years, with the Bears going just 3-10 against the conference.

Lifting the Lid

Missouri State is 20-12 in season openers under head coach Keith Guttin and 32-19 overall. MSU will be looking for its third-straight opening day victory; the Bears claimed an 11-5 win at UCA last year after stopping a string of four consecutive opening day losses with a 3-2 win at Texas State to kick off the 2013 slate.

Additionally, this weekend's action marks the 15th consecutive year the Bears will open their season on the road. MSU took two of three on opening weekend in Conway last season and has started each of the last four campaigns with seven wins in its first 10 games.

Preseason Pub for Matheny

Junior center fielder Tate Matheny caught the eye of the college baseball world with a strong 2014 season and a productive summer with Team USA. The St. Louis native landed a spot on nearly every major preseason All-America team, including a second-team nod from Perfect Game and third-team mentions from Baseball America, and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Matheny also earned a spot on USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award watch list, which honors the top amateur player in the country.

A two-time All-Missouri Valley Conference performer, Matheny has started all 108 games of his Missouri State career and is the Bears' active leader in home runs (14) and hitting with a .333 career average. A First-Team All-MVC selection last spring, he led all MVC batters with 35 hits in league play and ranked among the conference's statistical leaders in nearly every significant offensive category during the Valley season. Matheny was an ABCA All-Midwest Region honoree after leading MSU in slugging (.528), on-base percentage (.421), total bases (115), runs scored (42), RBIs (37) and multi-hit games (23) for the season. Additionally, he was charged with just one miscue in 155 defensive chances while starting 54 of the Bears' 57 games in center field to earn MVC All-Defensive Team and All-MVC Tournament honors as well.

Last summer, Matheny became the sixth Bear to be selected to compete for USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team during Keith Guttin's tenure and the first MSU position player to earn a national team roster spot since Ryan Howard in 2000.

Bears Picked Second in MVC Preseason Poll

With one of the most experienced rosters in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Bears once again are expected to factor prominently in the league race. For the second straight year, MSU was picked by the league's coaches to finish second in the MVC regular-season standings. The Bears garnered 53 total points, including one first-place vote, to finish nine points behind conference favorite Dallas Baptist.

DBU, the defending MVC Tournament champ, returns just 11 letterwinners from last year's 40-21 squad, but boasts a league-best four preseason All-MVC honorees. MSU, whose 19 returning letterwinnners matches Indiana State for the most in the circuit, placed three veterans on the league's preseason team. Tate Matheny was named to the list as an outfielder, while Jon Harris was selected as one of just two starting pitchers and Dylan Becker was picked as a utility player.

Wichita State (43) earned the No. 3 position in the poll, while Indiana State finished just one point behind the Shockers to claim the fourth spot. Defending MVC regular-season champ Evansville (28 points) and Illinois State (26) came home fifth and sixth, respectively, and Bradley (18) and Southern Illinois rounded out the poll.

Opening Act

Senior infielder Dylan Becker has made a habit of delivering in the clutch on opening day each of the last two seasons. In MSU's 2014 season-opening victory at UCA (Feb. 14), he drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a mammoth two-run homer in the fifth inning, igniting a Missouri State offense that would go on to outscore UCA 7-1 over the remainder of the afternoon. He followed that up with a 3-for-4 day, adding a double, stolen base and RBI to the Bears' cause in a 6-4 win the following afternoon.

The Leawood, Kan., product's strong start to 2014 came on the heels of the Bears' 3-2 win at Texas State to kick off the 2013 season, when Becker plated the deciding run in the 11th inning on a base hit up the middle to cap a day in which he recorded a stolen base and reached safely in three of his six trips to the plate.

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