(KAIT) – Opening Day is just a week away for ASU, and today the Sun Belt Preseason Coaches Poll and the Preseason All-SBC Baseball Team was announced. The Red Wolves were picked to finish tenth out of 11 teams.
Outfielder Todd Baumgartner and designated hitter Murray Watts were named All-SBC. Baumgartner hit .350 with 8 HR, 43 RBI and 13 stolen bases. Watts hit .305 with 10 HR and 44 RBI.
ASU starts the 2010 season next week with a three game series with Southern Illinois. First pitch is 1:00 pm for the games Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Middle Tennessee, the defending Sun Belt Conference regular season and tournament champion, has been tabbed the preseason favorite to win the 2010 league title in a vote of the league's head coaches. The Blue Raiders received eight of 11 first-place votes from the coaches. Bryce Brentz was selected as the SBC Preseason Player of the Year. Kenneth Roberts was tabbed the 2010 SBC Preseason Pitcher of the Year. Joining Brentz and Roberts on the Preseason All-SBC team is third-baseman Tyler Burnett. He batted .344 in '09 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs.
Following MT on the coaches poll is WKU, also a 2009 NCAA Tournament participant. The Hilltoppers compiled a 44-20 record winning 21 games in the SBC. WKU received two first-place votes in the coaches poll.
WKU is led by seniors Matt Rice and Matt Ridings, both Preseason All-SBC selections. In fact, WKU has the most student-athletes on the preseason team with four. Joining Rice and Ridings are seniors Bart Carter and Matt Payton. Rice led the Hilltoppers in hitting with a .339 average, and was second on the team in RBIs with 72. Rice is a first team selection on the NCBWA preseason All-American list. Ridings led WKU in wins last year with eight in 19 appearances. He pitched 102.1 innings last year and struck out 93 batters.
FIU was picked to finish third in 2010 by the coaches and return 20 lettermen from last year's squad that was 34-23 a season ago, finishing fourth in the SBC. The Panthers are led by senior first baseman Tim Jobe who hit .362 in '09 with 10 home runs and 48 RBIs.
The Troy Trojans were picked to finish fourth in the SBC, followed by Louisiana-Lafayette who was picked fifth by the coaches and earned one first-place vote.
Louisiana-Monroe was picked to finished sixth in 2010 by the coaches and return a wealth of talent as they look to make a trip back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000. Boomer Blanchard, a Preseason All-SBC selection, leads the Warhawks. The 2009 SBC Newcomer of the Year batted .351 last year with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs.
Florida Atlantic and South Alabama were picked to finished seventh and eighth, respectively, followed by New Orleans at No. 9. The Jaguars placed two on the Preseason All-SBC team, in seniors Lance Baxter and Adam Heisler. Heisler, a '09 second team All-SBC selection, finished fifth in the conference in batting average, but led the league with 50 hits in conference play. Baxter was the Jaguars best pitcher last season compiling a 3-3 record in 21 appearances with a 3.74 earned run average and six saves.
UALR, managed by second year head coach, Scott Norwood, welcomes a roster loaded with 24 newcomers.
2010 SBC Coaches Poll (first place votes)
1. Middle Tennessee (8), 114 pts
2. WKU (2), 103 pts
3. FIU, 94 pts
4. Troy, 90 pts
5. Louisiana-Lafayette (1), 81 pts
6. Louisiana-Monroe, 57 pts
7. Florida Atlantic, 51 pts
8. South Alabama, 47 pts
9. New Orleans, 40 pts
10. Arkansas State, 32 pts
11. UALR, 17 pts
2010 All-SBC Preseason Baseball Team
SP - Kenneth Roberts (Middle Tennessee, Sr.)
SP - Matt Ridings (WKU, Sr.)
RP - Lance Baxter (South Alabama, Sr.)
RP - Bart Carter (WKU, Sr.)
C - Matt Rice (WKU, Sr.)
1B - Tim Jobe (FIU, Sr.)
2B - Matt Payton (WKU, Sr.)
SS - Boomer Blanchard (Louisiana-Monroe, Sr.)
3B - Tyler Burnett (Middle Tennessee, Jr.)
OF - Todd Baumgartner (Arkansas State, Jr.)
OF - Bryce Brentz (Middle Tennessee, Jr.)
OF - Adam Heisler (South Alabama, Sr.)
DH - Murray Watts (Arkansas State, Jr.)
Preseason Player of the Year
Bryce Brentz (Middle Tennessee, Jr.)
Pitcher of the Year