RICHARDSON, Texas — Eastern New Mexico University was picked for fifth place in baseball and seventh place in softball in Lone Star Conference South Division preseason polls released by the conference office.
The baseball team, which finished 26-27 under 15th-year coach Phil Clabaugh in 2004, finished ahead of only West Texas A&M in the South poll. The Greyhounds collected one second-place vote and 42 points, while the Buffaloes were picked for fifth or sixth on all 16 ballots and finished with 21 votes.
Balloting was done by coaches in each division, as well as sports information directors and various media representatives.
Abilene Christian, which has won at least 40 games in seven of the past eight seasons, received 11 first-place votes and with 89 points finished well ahead of Texas A&M-Kingsville (68), which had two first-place ballots. The Wildcats are ranked 10th in preseason in NCAA Division II.
Second-year program Angelo State got the other three first-place votes and finished third, while Tarleton State was fourth.
Kingsville’s Steve Yaden, who was third in the LSC in batting a year ago at .433, was selected the division’s preseason player of the year. Abilene Christian junior right-hander Ben Maynard was named the preseason pitcher of the year after going 9-1 with a 3.92 earned run average in 2005.
In softball, defending champion Angelo State topped the South poll with 17 of 19 first-place votes and 131 points. Abilene Christian had the other two first-place votes and finished second overall with 96 points.
Angelo State has won or shared three consecutive LSC South titles and in 2004 claimed the NCAA Division II national championship, went 15-5 in division play last spring and finished 46-14 overall. Texas A&M-Kingsville was third in the poll, with Tarleton State fourth and Texas Woman’s fifth.
ENMU finished with 31 points and was nine points behind first-year program West Texas A&M, coached by former Zias softball coach Kevin Blaskowski.
Abilene Christian’s Jade Wilson was chosen the South’s preseason player of the year after hitting .318 with 12 homers and 54 runs batted in last year, while Kingsville’s Jennifer DeMay (14-9, 1.62 ERA) was the preseason pitcher of the year. Both were first-team All-South selections in 2005.
In the North Division, Central Oklahoma was given the favorite’s tag in both baseball and softball. The Bronchos were a unanimous selection in baseball, while Central’s softball team earned 10 of 15 first-place votes to beat out defending champion Midwestern State.
Central Oklahoma had the North’s baseball preseason player of the year (Matt Yost) and pitcher of the year (Jesse McGough). Central Oklahoma’s Alli Blake was chosen the division’s preseason pitcher of the year in softball, while Southeastern Oklahoma’s Kylie Ferguson was tabbed the preseason player of the year.
Softball and baseball teams will begin their seasons in early February.