American Southwest Conference Preseason Baseball Poll/Awards Announced

McMurry and Texas-Tyler have been picked to win 2009 ASC baseball division titles

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE

RICHARDSON, Texas –– McMurry University and the University of Texas at Tyler have been predicted to win 2009 American Southwest Conference baseball division titles, it was announced by the ASC office on Tuesday (Jan. 27) after a vote of each division’s head coaches, sports information directors and media members. The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor’s Joseph Villegas, Concordia University Texas’ Tom Williams, Hardin-Simmons University’s Kyle Barton, the University of the Ozarks’ Cory Briggs and Bruce Cameron, and UT Tyler’s Blake Booher all earned preseason individual honors.

McMurry, which went 29-19 en route to winning the conference championship last season, totaled 158 points and eight of the 24 possible first-place votes in the annual poll to be the favorites in the West Division. McMurry will be under the direction of first-year head coach John Byington, who takes over after serving for 10 seasons under the departed Lee Driggers. McMurry, which also won ASC crowns in 1998, 2001 and 2004, led the conference in home runs (76), doubles (117) and total bases (970) last season. Its pitching staff’s ERA of 4.94 was best in the division.

Mary Hardin-Baylor (156 pt.) received the same amount of first-place votes as McMurry and was just two points behind it to claim the second place position. Hardin-Simmons (137 pts.) received one top-spot vote and was predicted to finish third, while Concordia Texas (135 pts.) garnered four top-spot votes to come in the fourth spot and round out what would be West Division’s four teams to qualify for the ASC Championship Tournament. McM, UMHB, HSU and CTX all went 14-7 in conference play to tie for the divisional crown in 2008.

Three-time ASC champion Texas Lutheran University (118 pts.) garnered two first place votes and was predicted to finish fifth in the West, followed by Howard Payne University (74 pts.), Schreiner University (62 pts.) and Sul Ross State University (24 pts.). SU picked up the final top-spot vote.

Texas-Tyler, which went 36-9 overall and 15-3 in ASC play last season to win its second straight East Division title, totaled 146 points and all but one of the 21 first place votes available. Head coach James Vilade’s Patriots, who have won three divisional crowns overall, led the conference in batting (.362), pitching (3.02 ERA) and fielding percentage (.963) in 2008.

Mississippi College (105 pts.) claimed the second place spot, just one point better than Ozarks (104 pts.). The University of Texas at Dallas (89 pts.) picked up the other first-place vote and landed in the fourth position to round out what would be the East’s four ASC tourney qualifiers.

Louisiana College (64) was predicted to come in fifth place in the East, followed by East Texas Baptist University (46 pts.) and LeTourneau University (34 pts.).

Outfielders Villegas (Manchaca, TX / Hays HS) and Williams (Austin, TX / AHS) shared the title of ASC West Division Preseason Player of the Year. Villegas, a junior, batted .427 with eight home runs, 21 doubles and a league-high seven triples last season. Williams, a senior who earned top newcomer honors in 2008, hit .353 with 21 home runs and 61 RBIs. He scored 63 runs and was hit by pitch an ASC-record 21 times.

Barton (Seymour, TX / SHS), a senior right-hander, was named ASC West Division Preseason Pitcher of the Year. He went 6-1 with two saves and posted a league-best 1.76 ERA over 24 appearances – all but one in relief. Barton struck out 51 batters in 46 innings of work.

Teammates Briggs (Greencastle, PA / Greencastle Antrim) and Cameron (Houston, TX / Episcopal HS) shared the honor of ASC East Division Preseason Player of the Year. Briggs, a junior shortstop, hit .467 last season to win the ASC batting title and also produced eight home runs, 19 doubles and 54 RBIs. Cameron, a senior outfielder who also pitches, batted .410 with 14 homers, 12 doubles and 49 RBIs. He posted an .827 slugging percentage.

Booher (Hurst, TX / L.D. Bell HS), a senior right-hander, was predicted to win his second straight pitcher of the year award. The 2009 ASC East Division Preseason Pitcher of the Year went 11-1 with a 2.06 ERA last season, setting the ASC record for victories in a season with current teammate Brett Holland. Opposing batters hit a league-low .188 off Booher.

Villegas, Williams, Briggs and Booher were first team ASC all-division selections last year, while Barton was a second-team pick.

The 2009 ASC season – the 13th in league history – begins as early as February 1. The eight-team conference tournament’s first round, which is played in a best-of-three series format at sites of the top two seeds from each division, is set for April 24-25. The four victorious teams will advance to the double-elimination championship round, set for May 1-3 at the home field of the top remaining seed from the East Division. The ASC champion receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship.

2009 ASC PRESEASON BASEBALL POLL

[Voted on by ASC Head Coaches, Sports Information Directors and Media Members]
WEST DIVISION

Team (first-place votes)

Points

2008 Record
1.

McMurry (8)

158

29-19, 14-7 ASC
2.

Mary Hardin-Baylor (8)

156

28-12, 14-7 ASC
3.

Hardin-Simmons (1)

137

26-16, 14-7 ASC
4.

Concordia Texas (4)

135

30-16, 14-7 ASC
5.

Texas Lutheran (2)

118

19-21, 9-12 ASC
6.

Howard Payne

74

14-26, 8-13 ASC
7.

Schreiner (1)

62

11-29, 8-13 ASC
8.

Sul Ross State

24

6-29, 3-18 ASC

EAST DIVISION

Team (first-place votes)

Points

2008 Record
1.

Texas-Tyler (20)

146

36-9, 15-3 ASC
2.

Mississippi College

105

24-19, 13-5 ASC
3.

Ozarks

104

32-11, 13-5 ASC
4.

Texas-Dallas (1)

89

22-16, 6-12 ASC
5.

Louisiana College

64

17-26, 8-10 ASC
6.

East Texas Baptist

46

17-23, 3-15 ASC
7.

LeTourneau

34

11-25, 5-13 ASC

2009 ASC PRESEASON INDIVIDUAL AWARD WINNERS

[Voted on by ASC Head Coaches, Sports Information Directors and Media Members]

WEST DIVISION

Co-Player

Joseph Villegas, OF, Jr., University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

Tom Williams, OF., Sr., Concordia Texas University

Pitcher

Kyle Barton, RHP, Sr., Hardin-Simmons University

EAST DIVISION

Co-Player

Cory Briggs, SS, Jr., University of the Ozarks

Bruce Cameron, UTL, Sr., University of the Ozarks

Pitcher

Blake Booher, RHP, Sr., University of Texas at Tyler