Texas picked to win Big 12

FROM CONFERENCE PRESS RELEASE
IRVING, Texas–For the seventh consecutive year, Texas has been selected the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 Conference baseball regular season title in a vote of the league’s head coaches. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their teams.

The Longhorns (80 points) received eight of the possible 10 first-place votes to edge out second-place Missouri, which earned 71 points, including one first-place tally. Baylor was ranked third followed by 2007 postseason champion Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Nebraska. The Bears also claimed a first-place vote. Filling the remaining spots in the preseason poll were Kansas State, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas Tech.

UT won a Big 12-record fourth conference title in 2007 with a 21-6 mark in league play and a 46-17 record overall. The Longhorns return eight pitchers and five position starters, including Big 12 Player of the Year Kyle Russell. The Tomball, Texas native set the UT single-season record with a nation’s best 28 home runs last season. He was also named All-America first team by the NCBWA, American Baseball Coaches Association, Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America his sophomore season. The Tomball, Texas native hit .336 with 63 runs, 75 RBI and 10 stolen bases.

Missouri compiled a 42-18 record, tying for the fifth-most victories in school history. The Tigers set a school record for conference wins with a 19-8 league mark and claimed their best ever finish in the 11 years of the Big 12 Conference with a second-place showing. Junior right-handed pitcher Aaron Crow, an All-Big 12 First Team selection, has earned preseason recognition from Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Missouri mentor Tim Jamieson, who recorded his 400th-career victory in the season opener, was named the Big 12 Conference Co- Coach of the Year along with UT’s Augie Garrido.

The Bears return six of nine position starters in 2008. Baylor also welcomes back eight of 11 letterwinning pitchers from a year ago, including senior co-captain and preseason All-America closer Nick Cassavechia. The squad fielded its youngest team in a decade last year, starting four true freshmen and a pair of sophomores. BU reached its ninth NCAA Regional since 1998 and finished the season 35-27, becoming the 14th team in school history to reach the 35-win plateau.

The Big 12 baseball season gets underway on Friday, Feb. 22 with nine of the 10 squads in action — Texas Tech will play its season opener on Saturday.

2008 BIG 12 CONFERENCE BASEBALL PRESEASON COACHES’ POLL

Rank Team (first-place votes) Points
1. Texas (8) 80
2. Missouri (1) 71
3. Baylor (1) 65
4. Texas A&M 60
5. Oklahoma State 46
6. Nebraska 36
T7. Kansas State 30
T7. Oklahoma 30
9. Kansas 17
10. Texas Tech 15