Texas star reliever Corey Knebel
Baseball season is still two-plus months away, but the first preseason college baseball poll is out. And four Big schools are ranked.
It seems like we were just talking about preseason basketball polls and now, all of the sudden, we have the rankings of the top 25 in the one of the preseason college baseball polls. That's just the way it is in today's world of overlapping college athletics.
Collegiate Baseball has come out with its 2011 preseason rankings, and four teams from the Big 12 are on the list. Texas and Texas A&M are both ranked in the top ten at No. 5 and No. 6, respectively. Both teams were 19-8 against Big 12 competition in 2011 and advanced to the College World Series last spring. Oklahoma is ranked 16th in the preseason poll, and Baylor is 28th.
Texas brings back 16 players from last season's 49-19 team, including five position starters and two starting pitchers, including ace reliever Corey Knebel, who was among the national leaders last year in his freshman season. Texas A&M has the core of its starting pitching back for another go round this coming season, with senior right-hander Ross Stripling and junior Michael Wacha. Plus, the Aggies welcome back the 2011 Big 12 Player of the Year, outfielder Tyler Naquin.
Oklahoma, the preseason favorite to win it all in the Big 12 a year ago, finished third in the conference in 2011 with a 41-19 record. The Sooners, with 11 letter winners returning, ranked in at least one of the four major college baseball polls in 18 of the 19 weeks last season. Baylor was 31-28 last season and was ranked in the top 25 for seven weeks to start the season.
Four additional Big 12 teams - Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech - received votes in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll. Illustrative of the national recognition afforded Big 12 baseball, only Kansas of the conference schools that compete in baseball did not receive any votes.
The 2012 Big 12 baseball season officially gets under way on Feb. 17. This will be the final season in the Big 12 for Texas A&M and Missouri, both of which are moving to the Southeastern Conference later in 2012. TCU and probably West Virginia will be joining the Big 12 and will compete in baseball beginning in 2013.
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