Hounds 10th in LSC preseason baseball poll

CNJ staff

RICHARDSON, Texas — Eastern New Mexico University has been tabbed for 10th place in the 13-team Lone Star Conference baseball race in a poll of LSC coaches and sports information directors and various media.

Meantime, the ENMU softball squad was chosen for eighth place in the eight-team LSC South Division.

Two-time defending champion Abilene Christian earned the No. 1 spot in the baseball poll with 29 of 31 first-place votes and 401 points. It’s the 13th consecutive year the Wildcats have been picked first, including back when the league was split into divisions.

Incarnate Word becomes the LSC’s 13th baseball-playing member this year. The league has changed from four-game weekend series to a three-game format, meaning the conference is cutting back from 44 LSC contests to 36.

In most cases, teams will play a single game on Friday and a doubleheader on Saturday.

ENMU coach Phil Clabaugh, whose team earned a spot in the 2009 league tournament and has played for a berth on the final regular-season weekend in each of the past three years, said he thinks it’s going to take 20 wins to earn a top-six spot. The Hounds (22-29, 20-24 LSC in 2010) open the new season with a three-game set Feb. 4-5 at Central Oklahoma, which was picked for ninth place.

ENMU’s home opener is Feb. 18 against rival West Texas A&M, with a twin bill between the teams set for the following day.

Abilene Christian senior outfielder Ryan Oliver and Southeastern Oklahoma senior right-hander Heath Wyatt were chosen preseason player and pitcher of the year, respectively.

In softball, three-time defending LSC tournament champion Angelo State earned the No. 1 spot in the South poll, with 12 of 22 first-place votes. Defending South champion West Texas A&M (nine first-place votes)‚ and Texas Woman’s (one) followed.

The Zias (16-37, 3-14 South last year) open with five games in three days next weekend in a tournament hosted by St. Mary’s in San Antonio. ENMU won’t play at home until hosting Texas-Permian Basin in a March 23 doubleheader.

WT swept preseason honors, with junior outfielder Kimberly LeComte and junior right-hander Shelbey Cockrell the preseason player and pitcher of the year, respectively.

Defending champion Midwestern State earned 14 of 16 first-place votes to top the North Division poll, followed by Central Oklahoma and East Central, each with one first-place vote. Sophomore catcher Kacie Edwards of Central Oklahoma was the preseason player of the year and senior right-hander Brittney Tanner of Midwestern State the preseason pitcher of the year.

Team (1st-place votes) Pts

1. Abilene Christian (29) 401
2. Southeastern Oklahoma (1) 320
3. Angelo State 305
4. Cameron 293
5. Incarnate Word 264
6. Tarleton State 256
7. Texas A&M-Kingsville (1) 243
8. West Texas A&M 193
9. Central Oklahoma 143
10. Eastern New Mexico 141
11. Northeastern State 113
12. Southwestern Oklahoma 108
13. East Central 41
Preseason player of the year — Aaron Oliver, Abilene Christian. Preseason pitcher of the year — Heath Wyatt, Southeastern Oklahoma.

South Division
Team (1st-place votes) Pts

1. Angelo State (12) 165
2. West Texas A&M (9) 159
3. Texas Woman’s (1) 128
4. Tarleton State 98
5. Incarnate Word 85
6. Abilene Christian 64
tie. Texas A&M-Kingsville 64
8. Eastern New Mexico 29
Preseason player of the year — Kimberly LeComte, West Texas A&M. Preseason pitcher of the year — Shelbey Cockrell, West Texas A&M.
North Division
Team (1st-place votes) Pts

1. Midwestern State (14) 109
2. Central Oklahoma (1) 87
3. East Central (1) 72
4. Southeastern Oklahoma 71
5. Cameron 46
6. Southwestern Oklahoma 32
7. Northeastern State 31
Preseason player of the year — Kacie Edwards, Central Oklahoma. Preseason pitcher of the year — Brittney Tanner, Midwestern State.