(From the LSC Office)
Texas A&M-Kingsville is favored to win the Lone Star Conference baseball title after claiming the tournament crown last season according to the preseason poll was announced by league officials on Thursday.
TAMUK obtained 10 of the 18 first-place votes on the ballots cast by LSC coaches, sports information directors and various media representatives for 95 total points. The Javelinas, who hosted the NCAA South Central Regional, are coming off a record-setting season with 42 wins that ended in the regional finals.
In addition to the team recognition, TAMUK standouts Taylor Taska and Dallas Ponder were tabbed LSC Preseason Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.
Taska, a senior pitcher/first baseman from Kingwood, Texas, hit .341 and led the league in hits (77), home runs (7), RBI (52), and total bases (126), and ranked third in runs scored (51), doubles (18), and triples (5).
On the mound, the right-hander went 9-3 with a 3.32 ERA en route to earning Player of the Year acclaim.
Ponder, a senior pitcher from Flatonia, Texas, topped the league in wins (10), starts (15), innings pitched (88.1), and shutouts (3), while ranking second in strikeouts with 88 to receive Pitcher of the Year honors.
Angelo State totaled 83 points with four first-place nods to finish second in the voting, just in front of Tarleton State (81 with three first-place votes).
West Texas A&M ranked fourth with 63 points and the remaining top vote, followed by Cameron and Eastern New Mexico, who finished tied for fifth (28).
The 2014 season starts in early February with LSC teams playing a 10-week schedule with a four-game series and three-game series against every other team. Each four-game series shall consist of a 9-inning game Friday, a 7x7 doubleheader Saturday and 9-inning contest Sunday, and each three-game series shall consist of a 9-inning game Friday and a 7x9 doubleheader Saturday.
The overall LSC Champion will be the team(s) with the best winning percentage in regular-season conference games, while the winner of the postseason championship will be recognized as LSC Tournament Champion and receive the league's automatic qualification into NCAA postseason. The championship will be played May 8-10, at the No. 1 seed.
Here's a closer look at the voting breakdown for the conference:
|4||West Texas A&M||1||63|
|T5||Eastern New Mexico||28|