Augustana: Not Your Typical National Champion 0

By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Augustana’s baseball team performed a miracle last season.

The Vikings became the northernmost team ever to win the NCAA Div. II championship.

Keep in mind 33 of the 50 national champions on this level have come from Florida or California.

Almost every year, a team from a warm climate with a full compliment of 9 athletic scholarships claims the title.

There is little doubt that Augustana’s championship was the greatest achievement by a northern team in NCAA Division II history considering the Vikings only had five scholarships for its 47-man roster.

Plus, Augustana annually battles bone-chilling weather which means training inside for months prior to the season.

The coldest temperatures in Sioux Falls historically annually take place from December to February.

From December of 2018 to early February of 2019, 69 of the 70 days saw lows below freezing.

Thirty days were 15 degrees or below and 14 days below zero with a frigid maximum low of -25 on Jan. 30. The wind chill factor that day was -47 in Sioux Falls.

During the month of April last year, Sioux Falls had a record 31.4 inches of snow.

The point is that Augustana doesn’t have Chamber of Commerce weather during the early part of the season as the Vikings typically play 13-20 games away from home to kick off the season. That means many long bus rides in difficult driving conditions.

Despite this tremendous handicap, the Vikings rolled to a 52-9 record in 2018, the most wins in school history.

Augustana’s offense stole 170 bases in 198 attempts which was the highest amount of stolen bases on any level of college baseball.

Just as remarkable was that Augustana held opponents to only 21 stolen bases in 42 attempts over 61 games.

The pitching staff had a 2.84 ERA with 559 strikeouts, 168 walks and a nation leading 14 shutouts.

The Vikings started off 2018 with a remarkable 34-2 record and were ranked No. 1 in the nation.

But many people don’t realize Augustana promptly lost 6 of 10 games entering the conference tournament.

The Vikings rebounded to win 12 of their final 13 games, including four straight at the NCAA Div. II College World Series, enroute to their first national baseball title.

The mastermind behind this superb program is Head Coach Tim Huber who enters his 11th season at Augustana.

“There are a lot of negatives which involve the weather,” said Huber.

“But there are also some positives that come with the weather as well. We are inside a lot, especially early on in the season.

To read more of this story, purchase the Feb. 22, 2019 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. Augustana Head Coach Tim Huber explains in detail how his teams practice indoors for months to prepare for the season and how his teams are able to steal so many bases, plus more.