The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor baseball team is picked to finish fifth in the American Southwest Conference in the league’s annual Preseason Coaches and Media Poll. The ASC will continue play as a single, 13-team conference again this year with both Belhaven University and McMurry University continuing their transition to NCAA Division III and ineligible to compete in the conference tournament.
The Cru totaled 217 points in balloting of ASC coaches, sports information directors and selected media representatives. That #5 preseason ranking is five spots higher than UMHB was picked to finish in last season’s poll. Defending conference champion U.T.-Tyler is picked to repeat with 21 first-place votes and 331 total points. U.T.-Dallas took five first-place votes and 304 total points as the pick to finish second. Concordia Texas is picked third with 285 total points and East Texas Baptist is picked just ahead of the Cru with 257 points. Hardin-Simmons comes in at #6 with 207 points, Belhaven is picked seventh with 153 points and Sul Ross State totaled 132 points for eighth place. Louisiana College and McMurry University are tied for ninth place with 131 points apiece, Howard Payne is picked 11th with 114 points, Ozarks is picked 12th with 61 total points and LeTourneau University rounds out the poll with 59 total points.
UMHB catcher Max Conway and pitcher Casey Frazier were named to the ASC Preseason Watch List. Conway, a junior from The Woodlands High School, missed all of last season after suffering an injury in the season opener. He was First Team All-Conference in 2016 as he batted .317 and drove in 14 runs that season. Conway posted a .407 on-base percentage and threw 15 of 41 would-be base stealers on the year. Frazier, a senior from Salado High School, posted a 4-0 record and a 2.43 ERA in seven starts last season. He struck out 22 and walked just eight batters while earning Third Team All-Conference and Academic All-Conference honors.
The Cru finished 22-18 overall and went 16-8 in ASC play last season. UMHB advanced to the ASC Championship Tournament after being picked to finish tenth in last year’s preseason poll. The Cru expects to return 17 letter winners from that team this season. UMHB will open the 2018 campaign at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin on February 13th.