COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Vanderbilt University has been predicted to win the 2019 Southeastern Conference baseball championship as voted by the league's 14 head coaches in the annual preseason poll released Thursday. The Preseason All-SEC First and Second Teams, as determined by the head coaches, were also announced.
Vanderbilt garnered six first place votes, while LSU had five, Florida had two and Arkansas received one. The Commodores were predicted to win the SEC Eastern Division, while LSU was the favorite to win the SEC Western Division.
Since 1996, the SEC has named a regular season champion as well as a tournament champion. Prior to 1996, the tournament champion was considered the SEC champion.
Points were compiled on a descending basis for each division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team, and each coach also voted for one team as an overall conference champion.
For the fourth consecutive year, two Preseason All-SEC Teams were selected by the SEC head coaches. Eleven schools were represented on the All-SEC teams with Arkansas, Georgia and Ole Miss leading the way with four selections. Vanderbilt garnered three selections, while Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State and Texas A&M had two. Arkansas claimed an SEC-best four first-team accolades.
The 2019 regular season for SEC teams begins Feb. 15, with conference play set to begin March 15.
The SEC led the nation with 10 selections to the NCAA Baseball Tournament in 2018, six teams in the Super Regionals and three teams in the College World Series.
2019 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason Poll
- Vanderbilt (9) - 87
- Florida (4) - 81
- Georgia (1) - 68
- South Carolina - 53
- Tennessee - 40
- Kentucky - 30
- Missouri - 26
- LSU (10) - 88
- Ole Miss (1) - 65
- Arkansas (1) - 59
- Auburn (1) - 57
- Texas A&M (1) - 48
- Mississippi State - 47
- Alabama - 21
() - First place votes
SEC Champion: Vanderbilt (6), LSU (5), Florida (2), Arkansas (1)
2019 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team
C: Philip Clarke, Vanderbilt
1B: Cole Zabowski, Ole Miss
2B: Austin Martin, Vanderbilt*
2B: Noah Campbell, South Carolina*
3B: Aaron Schunk, Georgia
SS: Casey Martin, Arkansas
OF: Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas
OF: Dominic Fletcher, Arkansas
OF: Jake Mangum, Mississippi State
DH/UTL: T.J. Collett, Kentucky
SP: Tanner Burns, Auburn
SP: Zack Thompson, Kentucky
RP: Matt Cronin, Arkansas
C: Mason Meadows, Georgia
1B: Tanner Allen, Mississippi State
2B: LJ Talley, Georgia
3B: Tyler Keenan, Ole Miss
SS: Braden Shewmake, Texas A&M
OF: JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt
OF: Antoine Duplantis, LSU
OF: Daniel Cabrera, LSU
DH/UTL: Aaron Schunk, Georgia*
DH/UTL: Chase Cockrell, Ole Miss*
SP: John Doxakis, Texas A&M
SP: Tyler Dyson, Florida
RP: Parker Caracci, Ole Miss
Reigning Southland Conference regular-season champion Sam Houston State is favored to defend its title as voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. The Bearkats earned 22 first-place votes to top the preseason poll, the league announced Thursday.
After finishing atop the league standings in 2018 with a 24-6 conference record, Sam Houston was knocked out of the Southland tournament and missed out on a berth to the NCAA tournament for just the second time in the last seven seasons.
Sam Houston enters the 2019 season tied with four institutions for a conference-best three preseason all-conference selections – senior outfielders Hunter Hearn and Clayton Harp and junior pitcher Hayden Wesneski. The 2017 Southland Conference Freshman of the Year, Wesneski finished the year with a 7-3 mark and went at least six innings in 10 of his 15 starts, including each of his last eight, and posted nine quality starts.
Southeastern Louisiana earned three first-place votes and comes in just 26 total points behind Sam Houston State with 258. The Lions are coming off their third-straight second-place finish in the regular season with a 37-22 record in 2018.
Southeastern begins the season with three preseason all-conference first team members, headlined by senior pitchers Corey Gaconi and Carlisle Koestler. The duo combined to go 14-2 last season with a 2.90 ERA, 135 strikeouts over 167.1 innings pitched and just 1.6 walks per nine innings.
Defending tournament champion Northwestern State earned one first-place vote and 250 total points to rank third in the preseason poll. The Demons entered the 2018 Southland Conference tournament with an 18-12 mark in league play and won four-straight games to claim the program’s first-ever Southland Conference tournament title.
Northwestern State was named the No. 4 seed in the Corvallis Regional, hosted by eventual College World Series champion Oregon State. After shutting out San Diego State in the elimination game, the Demons lost a hard-fought battle with LSU to bring their season to a close. Senior pitcher Jerry Maddox, the 2018 Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year, headlines Northwestern State’s crop of returners.
Central Arkansas is picked to finish fourth with 200 points while McNeese rounds out the top five with 187 points. Houston Baptist (169), New Orleans (130), Lamar (128), Nicholls (120), Incarnate Word (104), and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (97) were voted sixth through 11th while Stephen F. Austin (63) and Abilene Christian (38) rounded out the poll.
The 2019 season begins Friday, Feb. 15, with 13 games, starting when Nicholls welcomes Southern Illinois at 1 p.m. CT.
Southland preseason polls are voted on by each program’s head coach and sports information director. Individuals rank the conference’s other 12 teams in predicted order of regular season finish, with first-place votes worth 12 points, second-place votes worth 11 points and so on to one point for 12th place.