The New Mexico State baseball team was selected third in the 2013 Western Athletic Conference preseason coaches polls, released Tuesday.
The Aggies, who won a share of last year’s WAC regular-season championship and were awarded an NCAA Tournament at-large berth, were picked behind No. 1 Dallas Baptist and No. 2 Texas State. Sacramento State (a WAC co-champion from a season ago) was picked fourth, followed by California State University Bakersfield, Texas Arlington, Louisiana Tech, Texas-San Antonio, San Jose State and Seattle University.
Dallas Baptist is a first-year WAC program — an affiliate member in baseball — although Aggie head coach Rocky Ward said they’re a strong club, evidenced by their preseason ranking.
“I worked very hard to get them included in the league,” Ward said. “They’re a very good baseball team that carries a very high RPI. That’s important to the strength of the league and getting more than one team into the tournament.”
While Dallas Baptist played as an independent program the past nine years — the Patriots made three NCAA Tournament trips during that time and finished last year with a 41-19 overall record — Texas State is also a first-year WAC program, coming from the Southland Conference.
“They must have a pretty good returning club,” Ward said of Texas State. “It surprised me a little bit. Kind of expected it to be Dallas Baptist, New Mexico State, and whoever. It doesn’t really matter a whole lot.”
NMSU finished last year with a 35-24 record, but dropped two-straight games in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. The Aggies’ RPI of 25 and their win-loss record helped propel them to the NCAA Tourney.
Last year, NMSU was powered by a strong pre-conference schedule, one that included Baylor (No. 4 national ranking), Arizona (2012 NCAA Champion), Rice (Regional host), Sacred Heart (2012 NCAA Tournament participant), Kent State (2012 NCAA Tournament participant) and New Mexico (2012 NCAA Tournament participant).
The Aggies take the field this Saturday at 2 p.m. in the annual Alumni Game at Presley Askew Field. They’ll play their season opener on Feb. 15, when they begin a four-game home series against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
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