1. Texas A&M-Kingsville - 83 (8)
2. West Texas A&M - 80 (4)
3. Tarleton State - 69 (1)
4. Angelo State - 64 (4)
5. Eastern New Mexico - 42
6. Cameron - 19
Preseason Player of the Year - Matthew Burkes from Eastern New Mexico
Preseason Pitcher of the Year - Blake Bass from Angelo State
Texas A&M-Kingsville was selected to repeat as Lone Star Conference baseball champions according to the preseason poll announced by league officials on Thursday.
TAMUK collected eight of the 17 first-place votes on the ballots cast by LSC coaches, sports information directors and various media representatives for 83 total points. The Javelinas, who advanced to the NCAA Division II South Central Regional championship game for the second consecutive season, finished 38-20 overall and 24-11 in conference games last season.
West Texas A&M totaled 80 points with four first-place nods to finish right behind TAMUK in the voting. Tarleton State ranked third with 69 points and one first-place vote, followed by Angelo State (64 and the remaining four top votes), Eastern New Mexico (42), and Cameron (19).
ENMU's Matthew Burks was tabbed LSC Preseason Player of the Year, while ASU's Blake Bass garnered LSC Preseason Pitcher of the Year honors.
Burks, a senior outfielder from Vacaville, Calif., led the league in slugging percentage (.627) and home runs (10) last season in addition to hitting .384 with 71 hits, 50 runs, 32 RBI and 11 stolen bases. The All-LSC first teamer also finished in the top 10 in school history for a season in home runs, total bases and hit by pitches.
Bass, a senior right-handed pitcher from Lubbock, Texas, posted a 2.72 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 76 innings of work in 2014. An All-LSC first-team and Daktronics second-team selection, finished with a 4-4 record in 12 starts and 13 appearances.
The 2015 season starts January 31 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 7-8-9, at the No. 1 seed.
LSC Softball Preseason Poll
1. West Texas A&M - 205 (21 first place votes)
2. Angelo State - 174 (1)
3. Midwestern State - 146
4. Texas Woman's - 135
5. Cameron - 117
6. Tarleton State - 89
7. Texas A&M Commerce - 64 (1) they got a first place vote and have never played a game?
8. Texas A&M Kingsville - 58
9. Eastern New Mexico - 47
Preseason Player of the Year - Renee Erwin from WTAM
Preseason Pitcher of the Year - Rita Hokianga also from WTAM
After claiming the program's first-ever NCAA Division II National Championship last season, West Texas A&M is the top choice to repeat as Lone Star Conference softball champions as the 2015 preseason poll was revealed by league officials on Wednesday.
WT received 21 of the 23 first-place votes for a total of 205 points in the poll decided by LSC coaches, sports information directors and various media representatives. The Lady Buffs finished the 2014 season with an overall record of 60-7 to become just the fourth team in NCAA Division II history to win 60 games in a season while also claiming the national title.
In addition, WT's Renee Erwin and Rita Hokianga claimed LSC Preseason Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year acclaim, respectively.
Erwin, a senior outfielder from Anna, Texas, paced the Lady Buffs memorable season by hitting .459 with 20 doubles, six triples, 18 homeruns and 75 RBI for an astonishing slugging percentage of .902 while walking 42 times to register an on-base percentage of .574 while tallying 57 putouts and seven assists from right field for a fielding percentage of .970. She broke the LSC single season record for total runs scored (81) and total bases (175).
An All-LSC first team selection, Erwin was also selected to the league's Golden Glove and All-Tournament Team. She earned Daktronics All-South Central Region first team and Player of the Year accolades along with National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) second-team recognition. Erwin was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team as well.
Hokianga, a senior pitcher from Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, led WT's national title run as she went 29-3 in the circle with a 2.11 ERA to go along with 21 complete games in 39 appearances with 33 starts. Hokianga registered eight shutouts with two saves in her 212.1 innings of work, giving up 151 hits while striking out an incredible 283 batters for an opponent batting average of .195. She was the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 NCAA Division II Championship with a perfect 4-0 mark and 1.09 ERA, including three complete games and 21 strikeouts in 25.2 innings of work. Hokianga was named the LSC Newcomer and Pitcher of the Year while also picking up All-LSC first team honors. She was named the Daktronics South Central Region Pitcher of the Year while being honored as an All-American by Daktronics (third team) and the NFCA (first team).
Angelo State was second in the poll with one first-place nod for 174 points. Midwestern State was third with 146 points in front of Texas Woman's, who was tabbed fourth with 135 points.
Cameron was fifth with 117 points, while Tarleton State (89), first-year program Texas A&M-Commerce (64 and one first-place vote), Texas A&M-Kingsville (58), and Eastern New Mexico (47) rounded out the poll.
The 2015 season starts January 31 with nine LSC teams playing a single round-robin schedule with a four games against each league opponent. The four-game series shall consist of a doubleheader Friday and a 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 single-elimination championship will be played May 1-2, at the No. 1 seed.
LSC INDOOR TRACK & FIELD: QUARTET HONORED
Lone Star Conference Indoor Track & Field athletes have recorded three NCAA Division II Automatic qualifying marks (3 women) and 23 provisional efforts (11 men, 12 women).
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
Chase Rathke, Tarleton State University, JR, Crawford, Texas, Crawford HS
Rathke the defending 1500m outdoor champion started his junior campaign with a statement in the mile at the Texas Tech Open this past weekend. Rathke ran 4:08.27 to win the event with ease finishing a full 12 seconds in front of the next competitor. His performance broke the school record by 10.70 seconds and is currently No. 2 in the nation behind MSU-Billings Robert Peterson, who completed the race .77 seconds faster than Rathke at the Montana State Open.
Lutalo Boyce, Texas A&M University - Kingsville, SO, Westbury, N.Y., Westbury HS/Nassau CC
Boyce set a school record in the long jump with a distance of 24-5.75 (7.46m) at the Aggie 13-Team Invitational on the way to a second place finish. He bested the previous Javelina mark by 2.75 inches. Boyce also placed seventh in the triple jump with a leap of 46-1.5 (14.06m). Both of his distances in the long and triple jumps are the longest in the LSC this season, and he has the third best long jump in the Division II.
Sharon Kwarula, West Texas A&M University, SR, Boroko, Papua New Guinea, Goroka Grammar School
Kwarula ran a strong provisional time in the prelims of the 55m hurdles on Friday at the Texas Tech Open in Lubbock. She ran a 8.02 just .01 of a second away from her school record time a year ago that got her into indoor nationals. She ended up placing sixth in the finals of the event. Her time converts to 8.65 in the 60m hurdles, ranking her first in the LSC currently and fourth in the nation.
Euphemia Edem, Tarleton State University, SR, Calabar, Nigeria, University of Calabar
Edem made history in the first jump of the season by shattering the Tarleton State indoor record in the long jump by over three feet finishing with a best jump of 19-8. She also set the school triple jump indoor record finishing the Texas Tech Open with a first-place 41-06.50 (12.66m) performance. The senior transfer from Stillman College hit the automatic qualifying mark in both events and is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation in the triple jump and No. 5 in the long jump.