FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Six-time defending Mountain West champion TCU is the unanimous favorite to win its seventh consecutive regular season MW baseball title in 2012, according to a vote of the five MW head coaches. The Horned Frogs received all five first-place votes and 25 points overall. UNLV edged out New Mexico for second place with 16 points, while the Lobos picked up 15 points in third place. San Diego State was picked fourth (12 points), followed by Air Force in fifth (7 points).
TCU, under the direction of head coach Jim Schlossnagle, returns 13 letterwinners from a 2011 squad that was 43-19 overall, 20-3 in MW action and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth consecutive season. The Horned Frogs are ranked in several preseason national polls, including No. 15 by Baseball America, No. 10 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 13 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). The Horned Frogs are led by returning all-Mountain West performers Josh Elander (C, Jr.), Jantzen Witte (3B, Jr.), Jason Coats (OF, Sr.), Brance Rivera (OF, Sr.) and Freshman All-American pitcher Andrew Mitchell. Elander has earned several preseason All-America honors in 2012.
UNLV (33-25, 10-13 MW) returns 18 letterwinners, including nine pitchers. Senior infielders Scott Dysinger and Brandon Bayardi are among the top starters returning for second-year head coach Tim Chambers. The Rebels will host the 2012 MW Championship at Earl E. Wilson Stadium, May 24-27.
New Mexico (20-41, 10-14 MW) made its second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011 by earning the MW Championship title and the league’s automatic bid. Head coach Ray Birmingham returns 17 letterwinners, including MW Championship Most Valuable Player D.J. Peterson (1B, So.) and Alex Allbritton (SS, Jr.). Peterson has been named to the 2012 Louisville Slugger Preseason All-America Third Team.
San Diego State (22-36, 11-13 MW) returns all-Mountain West performers Cody Smith (OF, So.) and Cole Swanson (LHP, So.) among its 16 returning letterwinners. Air Force (19-36, 4-20 MW) will be led in 2012 by all-MW selections Garrett Custons (C/OF, Jr.) and Sean Carley (RHP, Jr.).
The 2012 Mountain West baseball season begins Friday, Feb. 17 with all five MW teams in action. Conference play will begin on Friday, March 16. For more on the preseason poll and all-Conference team, as well as a look at each of the five MW squads, tune in to The Mtn.-MountainWest Sports Network (DirecTV 616) tonight for the 2012 MWC Baseball Preview, which airs at 7 p.m. MT.