RICHARDSON, Texas — Eastern New Mexico University was pegged for fifth place this season in the six-team Lone Star Conference South Division baseball poll, released on Tuesday by the conference office.
Abilene Christian, ranked 17th in Collegiate Baseball NCAA Division II preseason poll, received nine of 14 first-place votes and 79 points to edge out defending champion Angelo State, which had 71 points and four first-place votes.
Texas A&M-Kingsville had the other first-place vote and was chosen third, followed by West Texas A&M, ENMU and Tarleton State.
The Greyhounds got off to a 13-3 start last season, but struggled down the stretch and finished 24-32 (6-14 South). Veteran coach Phil Clabaugh enters his 16th season at the ENMU helm.
Clabaugh said he believes Abilene Christian is the team to beat in the South, and added that Angelo State has also done well since starting its program in 2004. Still, he thinks the Greyhounds have a chance to do well and make a run at an LSC tournament berth.
“I think it’s going to be interesting,” he said. “We’ve had very few years where the last weekend of the season hasn’t meant something.
“I would be very disappointed if we’re not playing to get in the tournament when we play Kingsville (in the final series of the season Apr. 27-28 at Greyhound Field.”
Angelo State’s Natt Hemm was named the South’s preseason player of the year. In 2006, he ranked third in the LSC with a .423 average, and had 82 hits with 16 doubles, 57 runs and 54 RBIs.
Abilene Christian senior right-hander Ben Maynard was the preseason pitcher of the year. He was 8-3 last season with a 4.97 earned run average.
The Wildcats were 13-7 for second in the South last season, and their 44-18 overall record gives them eight 40-win campaigns in the last nine years.
Central Oklahoma, ranked 15th in preseason, earned 13 of 14 first-place votes and compiled 83 points to earn the favorite’s nod in the North over Southeastern Oklahoma (65) and Cameron (61).
Central Oklahoma’s Brett Case was chosen the North’s preseason pitcher of the year, while Southeastern’s Mason Parham and Cameron’s B.J. Cole were named co-players of the year in the division.