COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M was selected to finish third in the SEC Western Division in the 23rd annual SEC Preseason Baseball Poll, the league announced on Tuesday.
The Aggies were slotted to finish third in a tie with Alabama as both teams received 58 points in balloting among the league’s 14 coaches. Texas A&M received one first-place vote, one of three teams to garner a first-place vote. LSU was the narrow favorite to win the Western Division, receiving 84 of a possible 91 points, including six first-place votes. Mississippi State came in second with 83 points, including seven first-place votes. Arkansas (44), Ole Miss (35) and Auburn (21) rounded out the voting in the seven-team division.
Points were compiled on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for each division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. Each coach also voted for one team as an overall conference champion.
South Carolina was predicted to be the 2014 SEC champion. In the 14 votes cast for the overall league winner, South Carolina received five votes followed by LSU and Mississippi State with four apiece and Vanderbilt with one.
In voting for the Eastern Division, South Carolina garnered 86 points, including nine first-place votes. They beat out Vanderbilt, who had 82 votes and the other five first-place votes. Florida (69), Kentucky (47), Tennessee (39), Georgia (38) and Missouri (24) completed the order for the East.
Texas A&M finished 34-29 overall last season and earned a trip to their school-record seventh consecutive NCAA Division I Baseball Championship. The Aggies return 17 lettermen from 2013, including seven starting position players and four starting pitchers. All-SEC Second Team performers Krey Bratsen, in centerfield, and Daniel Mengden, on the mound, highlight the group of returnees as well as SEC All-Defensive Team selection Cole Lankford at first base.
Bratsen is one of five seniors on the squad along with closer Jason Jester, starting pitcher Parker Ray, rightfielder Jace Statum and catcher Troy Stein.
SEC league play is set to begin Friday, March 14. The SEC Tournament will be played at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Ala., May 20-25.
2014 SEC Preseason Baseball Poll
(released on February 11, 2014)
1) LSU (6) 84
2) Mississippi State (7) 83
3) Texas A&M (1) 58
5) Arkansas 44
6) Ole Miss 35
7) Auburn 21
1) South Carolina (9) 86
2) Vanderbilt (5) 82
3) Florida 69
4) Kentucky 47
5) Tennessee 39
6) Georgia 38
7) Missouri 24
SEC Champion: South Carolina (5); LSU (4), Mississippi State (4); Vanderbilt (1)