Following three consecutive trips to the American Southwest Conference Baseball Championship Tournament, the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets are picked to finish ninth in the preseason poll, released Wednesday.
The top eight teams advance to the postseason but one of the squads picked ahead of Howard Payne — McMurry — is ineligible to advance to the postseason.
The Yellow Jackets (19-21, 9-12) received 133 points in the poll, which was better than Mary Hardin-Baylor (11-28, 6-18, 99 points), Louisiana College (13-25, 8-16, 93 points), Ozarks (14-26, 5-10, 53 points) and Belhaven (20-18) — which is also not eligible to advance to the postseason.
UT-Tyler (32-19, 15-9), with 329 points and 15 first-place votes, is the ASC favorite followed by Concordia (28-15, 19-5), with 303 points and seven first-place votes, in second place. Hardin-Simmons (29-18, 17-7), with 292 points and four first-place votes, ranks third, East Texas Baptist (31-14, 18-6), with 292 points and first-place votes, came in fourth and UT-Dallas (24-20, 10-14), with the final two first-place votes and 220 points, placed fifth in the poll.
McMurry (21-22, 14-10, 191 points) was next in sixth place followed by seventh-place Sul Ross (19-24, 11-13, 174 points), eighth-place LeTourneau (15-22, 11-13, 144 points) and HPU.
The ASC also released its players to watch list, which consists of 26 players — one pitcher and one position player — from each school.
Making the list for the Yellow Jackets were sophomore infielder Noah Payne along with sophomore pitcher Seth Owen, a Brownwood High graduate.
Howard Payne opens the regular season Feb. 10 at Schreiner, kicks off ASC action at Sul Ross on Feb. 17 and plays its first home game Feb. 24 against ASC foe UT-Tyler.