The baseball polls are out, and according to this year’s Lone Star Conference preseason rankings, the ACU Wildcats will start the year as the fourth best on the diamond in the LSC.
LSC coaches, sports information directors and writers cast their ballots for the conference, and the Wildcats, a perennial first place selection, will have to surprise to finish at the top.
“There is a lot of uncertainty with us right now,” head coach Britt Bonneau said. “we have 25 new players while other teams are coming off of strong years. That (ranking) should be a motivator for us.”
Last year’s disappointing season ended without an LSC tournament appearance, a first for ACU, and probably contributed to the low ranking.
Incarnate Word was ranked first after finishing last year’s regular season in first in the conference. The Cardinals received 13 of the possible 21 first place votes and 157 points.
The Cardinals also were bestowed the honor of having the LSC’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year on their squad in Kirk Jewasco, a senior from San Antonio. Jewasco led the league in 2011 with a 14-2 record and amassed 103 strikeouts. He was last year’s Pitcher of the Year and also garnered first team all-LSC honors.
2012’s Preseason Player of the Year is West Texas A&M infielder Jess Cooper. Although WT is ranked near the bottom of the conference in sixth, Cooper is bright spot in their lineup. Last spring the senior hit an astonishing .494 and had 50 RBI’s.
Behind Incarnate Word in the rankings is Tarleton State who had one first place vote and 126 points, followed by Cameron with two top votes and 105 total points.
Angelo State and ACU ended up tied for fourth with 91 points. The Wildcats did receive one first place vote.
“My main goal is to get this team to know each other in the middle of battle,” Bonneau said. “Over the last four or five months this team has bonded more than others have in the past. This team wants to be a team that people will talk about.”
ACU will begin play at home on Feb. 3 against Arkansas Tech University. The Wildcats will play 13 straight at home before going on their first road trip in mid-March.
“It’s nice because we will have an actual preseason before conference play. We have time to form a team for conference, and we need these home games to come together because on the road, we will be tested.”