FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
INDIANAPOLIS — The University of Illinois at Chicago has been picked to win the 2009 Horizon League Baseball Championship in balloting by the conference’s seven head coaches.
UIC received 36 points and the maximum six first-place votes as coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams. The Flames posted a 35-22 overall record and 17-6 Horizon League mark a season ago en route to their fourth conference crown in six years.
Wright State University (29 points) places second in the preseason poll and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (26) ranks third, while Youngstown State University (21), Valparaiso University (15), Cleveland State University (14) and Butler University (6) round out the field.
The Horizon League’s 2008 Pitcher of the Year, Youngstown State right-hander Aaron Swenson, leads a group of six returning All-Horizon League First-Team selections. Catcher Gerald Ogrinc, infielder Jeff Mercer and left-hander Jon Durket are back for Wright State, while outfielder Brad Buell returns for Cleveland State and utility man Andy Gerhartz for Milwaukee.
Five Horizon League players were selected in the 2008 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Wright State had three players drafted for the first time in school history, while Cleveland State and UIC each had one player picked. WSU first baseman Jeremy Hamilton was the first League player taken (fifth round, 166th overall).
UIC’s Mike Dee and Youngstown State’s Rich Pasquale were named Horizon League Co-Coaches of the Year in 2008. Dee, who guided the Flames to their seventh consecutive regular-season title and ninth straight 30-win season, picked up the honor for the eighth time in his 10-year career. Pasquale led the Penguins to a four-win improvement in conference play during his first season.
Six Horizon League baseball teams open the 2009 campaign the weekend of Feb. 20-22. Wright State travels to #4 Texas A&M, Youngstown State visits #5 Georgia, Milwaukee heads to #7 Arizona State, UIC travels to #8 Texas, Cleveland State visits Georgia State and Valparaiso heads to Morehead State.
The 2009 Horizon League Baseball Championship is slated for May 19-23 at Pipe Yard Stadium in Lorain, Ohio. The event, which is hosted by Cleveland State, will feature all seven League teams in a double-elimination format. The winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
2009 Horizon League Preseason Baseball Poll
2. Wright State
4. Youngstown State
6. Cleveland State