Bulletin Staff Report
According to the American Southwest Conference preseason media poll, which was released earlier this week, the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets baseball team will have a considerable amount of work ahead of it if it intends to reach the postseason.
The Yellow Jackets — who went 18-21 overall and 11-10 in conference action in head coach Stephen Lynn’s first full season a year ago — were picked to finish fifth in the ASC West.
Howard Payne is projected to finish behind two-time defending ASC champion Texas Lutheran, Hardin-Simmons, McMurry and Concordia.
TLU (35-13, 14-5) received nine first-place votes and 145 total points, just edging out the eight first-place votes and 140 total points of Hardin-Simmons (28-17, 15-6).
The Cowboys also boast both the West’s preseason player of the year and pitcher of the year in senior third baseman Brad Coleman and junior left-hander Dalton Rucker.
McMurry (26-16, 14-7) also picked up a first-place vote and 114 points.
Concordia (21-17, 13-6) garnered 99 points in the voting, 20 more than Howard Payne.
Rounding out the West predictions were Mary Hardin-Baylor (15-24, 7-14) in sixth place, Schreiner (11-27, 5-16) — with two first-place votes — in seventh place and Sul Ross (5-34, 3-18) in eighth place.
In the East division, two points separated favorite UT-Tyler from UT-Dallas.
UT-Tyler (28-11, 13-8) — led by senior outfielder and preseason player of the year Clay Copeland — picked up eight first-place votes to the seven for UT-Dallas (33-14, 13-8).
Mississippi College (29-16, 14-7) received one first-place vote to come in third, followed by Louisiana College (18-24, 10-11), East Texas Baptist (23-16, 8-13), Ozarks (19-21, 9-12) and LeTourneau (13-24, 8-13).
ETBU sophomore right-hander Andrew Cantrell was tabbed as the preseason pitcher of the year.
The Yellow Jackets’ season begins with a three-game series at UT-Permian Basin beginning on Friday, Feb. 9.
Exactly a month later, HPU opens conference play with a three-game set at Mary Hardin-Baylor on March 9.
The conference tournament, which includes four teams from each division, starts April 27.