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2014 Southland Conference Preseason Poll

SouthlandConferenceSmallFRISCO, Texas – Sam Houston State is favored to defend its Southland Conference regular-season baseball championship by a vote of the league’s head coaches and sports information directors, the conference announced Wednesday.

The Bearkats were the overwhelming favorites in the both the coaches’ and SID polls, receiving the 10 first-place votes and 120 points from the coaches and eight first-place votes and 117 points from the SIDs. Sam Houston returns 15 letterwinners, seven starters and seven pitchers from a Bearkat squad that won its second consecutive regular-season title and advanced to an NCAA regional for the fifth time in seven years. Among the returning players are first-team all-conference selections Anthony Azar and Luke Plucheck and second-team picks Ryan Farney, Carter Burgess, Corey Toups and Colt Atwood. Sam Houston, which finished the 2013 season with a 38-22 overall record, went 20-7 in conference play, recording its second consecutive 20-win season in conference.

The second-, third- and fourth-place teams in both polls are separated by less than six points.

Southeastern Louisiana was selected second in both polls, gathering a first-place vote from the coaches for 95 points and two first-place nods from the SIDs for 100 points. The Lions tied for third in the conference standings last season with a 16-11 mark in conference play and a 36-24 overall record.

Lamar was slotted for a tie for second place with Southeastern Louisiana in the coaches’ poll, garnering the final first-place vote and 95 points. The Cardinals, which was picked sixth in the SID poll with 78 points, reached the semifinals of last season’s conference tournament and finished the year with a 39-20 overall mark and tied for fifth in conference with a 15-12 record.

Oral Roberts was selected fourth by the coaches and third by the SIDs, picking up 93 and 95 points, respectively. The Golden Eagles tied for third last season with a 16-11 league mark.

Following the Golden Eagles in both polls was Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and then Central Arkansas. The Islanders tallied 91 points and fifth place from the coaches and picked up a first-place vote and 94 points to be slated fourth by the SIDs. The Bears, who were picked sixth in the coaches’ poll and fifth in the SID poll, totaled 82 points from the coaches and 82 points and the final first-place vote from the SIDs.

Stephen F. Austin was selected seventh in both polls while Nicholls was picked eighth by the coaches and ninth by the SIDs. McNeese State was tabbed 10th by the coaches and eighth according to the SIDs, and Northwestern State was slated ninth by the coaches and 10th by the SIDs.

Conference newcomers Houston Baptist and New Orleans were 11th and 12th, respectively, to round out both polls.

Since both Abilene Christian and UIW will not play a full slate of league games in their first year of transition into Division I, they were not eligible to be picked in the preseason polls. Additionally, neither team is eligible for postseason play until the 2018 season.

Opening day of the Southland season is Feb. 14 with conference play beginning March 21. The Southland Conference tournament will be played May 21-24 at Bear Stadium hosted by Central Arkansas in Conway, Ark.

Rk. University (First-Place Votes) Points

1. Sam Houston State (10) 120
T2. Lamar (1) 95
T2. Southeastern Louisiana (1) 95
4. Oral Roberts 93
5. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 91
6. Central Arkansas 82
7. Stephen F. Austin 61
8. Nicholls 43
9. Northwestern State 37
10. McNeese State 35
11. Houston Baptist 27
12. New Orleans 13

Sports Information Directors

Rk. University (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Sam Houston State (8) 117
2. Southeastern Louisiana (2) 100
3. Oral Roberts 95
4. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (1) 94
5. Central Arkansas (1) 83
6. Lamar 78
7. Stephen F. Austin 65
8. McNeese State 46
9. Nicholls 41
10. Northwestern State 34
11. Houston Baptist 26
12. New Orleans 13

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