DENVER, Colo. – The Western Athletic Conference (WAC) has selected Sacramento State third in the preseason coaches' poll, the conference announced Monday. Bakersfield was picked first, earning eight first place votes, while New Mexico State was picked just ahead of the Hornets in second place.
The coaches picked Bakersfield to win the 2014 conference title, as the Roadrunners garnered eight first place votes and 80 total points. The Hornets and New Mexico State each had one first place vote and the Aggies finished just two points ahead of the Hornets in second place. With 68 points, Sacramento State finished well ahead of the 50 points received by fourth-place Utah Valley.
The WAC had dramatic changes to its membership for the third consecutive year. Sacramento State is one of just four returning WAC baseball members from last season along with Bakersfield, New Mexico State, and Seattle U. Joining the conference as full members were Chicago State, Grand Canyon, Texas-Pan American, and Utah Valley while North Dakota and Northern Colorado joined the Hornets as affiliate members. Departed from the league in 2014 are Dallas Baptist, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, Texas-Arlington, Texas-San Antonio and Texas State.
Despite the changes the league maintained the same number of baseball-playing schools with 10. The Hornets finished fifth in the WAC in 2013 while Bakersfield won the regular season crown but Texas-San Antonio won the WAC Tournament to earn the league's automatic NCAA Tournament bid. Another NCAA bid will be on the line when the 2014 WAC Tournament commences May 21 at Wrigley Field West in Mesa, Ariz.
The Hornets bring back seven starting position players, top starting pitchers Brennan Leitao and Ty Nichols, and preseason All-American closer Sutter McLoughlin. Sacramento State has a challenging non-conference schedule, including a pair of home contests against No. 2 Oregon State and a three-game series at No. 22 Texas A&M, while the team plays 32 of 56 games in Sacramento. The squad also plays 15 of its 27 WAC games on John Smith Field.
2014 WAC Baseball Coaches' Poll
Team (first-place votes) - Total
1. Bakersfield (8) - 80
2. New Mexico State (1) - 70
3. Sacramento State (1) - 68
4. Utah Valley - 50
5. Grand Canyon - 45
6. Texas-Pan American - 37
7. Seattle U - 35
8. Northern Colorado - 34
9. North Dakota - 22
10. Chicago State - 9