Belton (January 29, 2013) -- The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor baseball team has been picked to finish fourth in the American Southwest Conference’s West Division in the league’s annual Preseason Coaches and Media Poll. The Cru totaled 77 points in balloting of ASC West Division coaches, sports information directors and selected media representatives.
Defending ASC champion Concordia Texas is picked to win the West Division after picking up 17 first-place votes and 139 total points. Texas Lutheran University was picked second with two first-place votes and 118 total points and Hardin-Simmons University was picked third with the other two first-place votes and 116 total points. Howard Payne University was picked to finish fifth with 60 total points, Sul Ross State was picked sixth with 50 total points and Schreiner University totaled 38 points as the pick to finish seventh in the ASC West.
Cru center fielder Chris Florack and right-handed pitcher Chance Ryan were named to the ASC West Division Players to Watch list. Florack, a senior outfielder from Cy-Woods High School, is coming off a season in which he batted .311 with five home runs, 29 RBI and 29 stolen bases. Ryan, a senior from Rosebud-Lott High School, posted a 5-2 record and a 3.56 ERA. Ryan also struck out 69 batters in 65.2 innings of work. The Players to Watch list replaced the Divisional Preseason Player of the Year Awards two years ago.
U.T.-Tyler was picked to win the ASC East Division after picking up 11 first-place votes and 134 total points. U.T.-Dallas, Mississippi College and Louisiana College were picked to round out the top four in the East Division.
Ben Shipp returns to the dugout as head coach of the UMHB baseball program this season after serving as the school’s Vice-President for Athletics from 1996-2012. Shipp is 277-249-1 as head coach of the UMHB baseball program. The Cru will return 16 letter winners, three starting position players and seven pitchers from a team that finished 21-17 overall and 11-10 in ASC play last season. The Cru will open the 2013 season with a home non-conference game against Texas Wesleyan University at 4:00 PM on February 11th.