Monmouth College Fighting Scots ready for MWC Baseball Championships


Alan Betourne, Monmouth College Baseball Head Coach

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Thanks to Mother Nature, Monmouth College will be hosting the Midwest Conference Baseball Championships. That could be good news for coach Alan Betourne and his Fighting Scots.
Due to a forecast of wet, cold weather in Wisconsin, the tournament to determine the league champion and the automatic NCAA berth that goes with it has been moved to Monmouth’s home field. Picked third in the preseason coaches’ poll, the Scots rattled off a conference-best 16-4 league record to win the South Division for the first time since 2009, ultimately earning hosting duties. St. Norbert, the North Division champions, relinquished hosting rights, referencing the need to play the championships where inclement weather would not a factor.
Glasgow Field has been kind to the Scots, who last won the league title in 2002 – at Glasgow Field – when Betourne was a freshman backup first baseman. It was also the same year the Scots won a school-record 26 games, currently one more win than the 2018 edition of the Scots.
“It would be nice if history repeated itself,” smiled Betourne as his team makes their first tournament appearance since 2011. “The guys are pretty relaxed after the weekend. We weren’t even supposed to contend for the tournament, so why not go out and have fun? We’ve had a very good season, so this weekend is a bonus.”
The opening game at Glasgow Field is set for 11 a.m. Friday and will pair the top two hitting teams in the league: Monmouth (.309) and Lawrence (.304). St. Norbert (.292) and Grinnell (.301) will meet at the same time at Knox College’s Blodgett Field. Regardless of the outcome of the first two games, Monmouth will play their next round at home, giving Betourne’s boys two chances Friday to tie the program win record at home.
“The record is nice, but right now, we’re just focusing on winning a game at a time,” said Betourne. “We’d like to win the first three games.”
Betourne’s optimum scenario would give the Scots their 16th league title, the most by any Monmouth sport other than track and field.
Led by Grant Myers – the MWC’s top bat who posted league highs with a .425 batting average, .754 slugging percentage and nine home runs – Monmouth’s offense has scored a league-high 312 runs. Grinnell’s Sam Galanek interrupted Myers’ lead in the major categories by collecting 47 RBIs, one more than Myers. The Scots and Pioneers are neck-and-neck when it comes to home runs, as each have slammed an MWC-best 24 roundtrippers.
The Scots have not only scored runs, they’ve also shown the propensity to score late.
“I never feel like we’re out of a game,” claimed Betourne. “You never know what’s going to happen. We want to keep competing and get guys on base. Guys up and down the lineup have produced key hits and runs for us. This group has been very good at producing big innings.”
While the Scots boast a potent offense, Betourne is counting on a deep pitching staff to give the team an advantage. Needing to play anywhere between three and five games to win the title, the Scots boast a deep pitching staff with plenty of arms to go around, including league saves leader Jake Starkey (7), who this season set the Scots’ program saves record and sits just two shy of tying the career mark.
“I think the depth of our pitching staff is where our advantage lies,” projected Betourne. “We felt going into the season we were pretty deep. Our stats really don’t show the true strength of the staff. If need be, we can bring our No. 4 or 5 starter in for relief and be comfortable the next day. That’s a big plus going into a compressed weekend like this.”
Betourne and the rest of the field is used to those compressed weekends, experiencing it just two weeks ago when the MWC Crossover was moved to Monmouth and Galesburg after wintry weather in Wisconsin also forced a move south. With the late April weekend a “dry run” of sorts for the Scots, Betourne is well prepared for championship weekend.
“We’re excited and I’m sure a little nervous, but we’re telling our guys to go out there and have fun,” said Betourne. “This is a special time for us, but it’s all about a simple approach and keeping it simple. If we continue with the approach we’ve had all season and play smart baseball, I feel like we’ll be there at the end.”

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