DENVER - Bakersfield has been selected as the favorite to win the 2014 Western Athletic Conference regular season baseball crown in a vote by the league’s 10 head coaches. North Dakota, in its first year in the conference, was picked ninth in the preseason rankings.
The Roadrunners received 80 points and eight first place votes after winning a share of last season's WAC regular season title. The 'Runners went 37-22 overall last season with an 18-9 mark in the WAC. CSUB went 2-1 at last year's WAC Tournament.
New Mexico State ranked second with 70 points and one first place vote. NMSU was followed by Sacramento State with 68 points and a first place vote.
Fellow WAC newcomer Utah Valley was selected fourth with 50 points. The Wolverines went 24-30 last season and finished fourth in Great West Conference play with a 15-9 record.
Grand Canyon, who will play its first year as a Division I member, was picked fifth with 45 points. Texas-Pan American received 37 points to earn the No. 6 spot, followed by Seattle U in seventh with 35 points. Northern Colorado was eighth with 34 points. North Dakota received 22 points to place ninth, while Chicago State was 10th with nine points.
UND returns eight positional starters and the entire starting rotation to a team that enjoyed its first winning season in its NCAA Division I era last season (25-22-1), its most wins in a season since 2005.
North Dakota's 2014 season gets underway Feb. 28 in Lawrence, Kan. to play former Great West Conference foe Houston Baptist before battling the host Jayhawks of Kansas. The WAC Tournament will be held in Mesa, Ariz. at Cubs Park, May 21-25. The top six teams from the regular season standings will advance to the double-elimination tournament.
2014 WAC Baseball Coaches’ Poll
(Points awarded on a 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis as coaches
were not allowed to vote for their own teams)
Rk. Team (first-place votes) Total
1. Bakersfield (8) 80
2. New Mexico State (1) 70
3. Sacramento State (1) 68
4. Utah Valley 50
5. Grand Canyon 45
6. Texas-Pan American 37
7. Seattle U 35
8. Northern Colorado 34
9. North Dakota 22
10. Chicago State 9