Winona State baseball returns offensive core, features strong pitching depth in 2020

Warriors went 2-1 in opening series at Pittsburg State
Winona State Baseball

Baseball is back in NCAA Division II, and Winona State baseball is off to a 2-1 start after a series win at Pittsburg State over the weekend.

The Warriors return an experienced batting order, and that experience showed over the weekend, with eight different hitters driving in at least one run. Senior first baseman Sam Kohnle, who hit .350 last year, led the offense by hitting .500 and recording 5 RBIs.

The team said they expected their hitting to be strong, but this past weekend showed them that they might have all the pieces this year.

“Starting pitching was off the charts for us,” Kohnle said. “It was awesome. Every time our starting pitchers came off, we had the lead. You can’t ask for much more than that, giving us a chance to win.”

Winona State’s starting pitchers went 15 1/3 innings in the three games and allowed just six earned runs, and other than one bad ninth inning in game two, the Warrior bullpen was efficient.

“Our pitching staff, I think, and I don’t want to jinx it, is probably as deep as our 2011 team that went to the World Series,” head coach Kyle Poock said. “I think we have that potential. We’re pretty good in all three phases–pitching, hitting, and defense. But it’s because we have a lot of experience and they play a lot together.”

The Warriors said last year’s conference tournament appearance, in which they upset two higher-ranked teams, got them itching to raise the bar.

“These past three years, before [last year] were kind of tough,” Kohnle said. “Sometimes we’d make the conference tournament. To be able to make the conference tournament [last year] and win some games, make a little noise, it definitely got the guys fired up to come back. This offseason everyone put in a lot of work, because we got a taste of it and we want more.”

As a fifth-year senior, Kohnle said it’s his goal to help lead this team to a conference tournament championship.

The Warriors next play a four-game series at Drury University beginning on Friday afternoon.