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Another fantastic season is around the corner, and in our latest conference previews we take an inside look at the Southland and Ohio Valley Conferences.
Texas State leads the Southland while Sam Houston State, UTSA and Southeastern Louisiana are expected to be title contenders.
Eastern Illinois once again leads the OVC with Murray State and Morehead State hot on their heels as both programs return several key players.
2. Sam Houston State
4. Southeastern Louisiana
6. Northwestern State
8. Stephen F. Austin
9. McNeese State
10. Central Arkansas
11. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
12. Nicholls State
1B Kyle Livingstone, Texas State
2B Braeden Riley, Sam Houston State
SS Lance Brown, UTSA
3B Chase Lyles, Northwestern State
OF Michael Choice, Texas-Arlington
OF Bret Atwood, Texas State
OF Cass Hargis, Southeastern Louisiana
DH Tyler Sibley, Texas State
SP Rett Varner, Texas-Arlington
SP Eric Harrington, Lamar
SP Matison Smith, Lamar
RP Chris Franklin, Southeastern Louisiana
Eric Harrington, Lamar
Michael Choice, Texas-Arlington
It once again could be a Texas two-step in the Southland Conference.
Texas State made a huge statement last season by winning the regular season title and earning an at-large bid to an NCAA regional. The Bobcats also are the preseason pick to once again win the regular season title this season.
Sam Houston State also hopes to return to the NCAA postseason. The Bearkats didn't have a great regular season campaign last season, but rose to the occasion in the SLC tournament to earn an automatic postseason bid.
Both clubs are expected to have big-time campaigns this season.
UTSA has had much success under the tutelage of coach Sherman Corbett. The Roadrunners have some tough holes to fill with the departure of stud Michael Rockett. However, they welcome back plenty of talented players, including seasoned veteran infielder Lance Brown.
Also keep an eye on Southeastern Louisiana and Lamar. The Lions made strides last season and could be better if the pitching staff steps up. Lamar, though, has an excellent one-two punch on the weekend in Eric Harrington and Mattison Smith. But offense is a major concern with just two returning position starters.
AT A GLANCE
Regular-season winner last season: Texas State
Tournament winner last season: Sam Houston State
New coaches: None
Coach on the rise: Ty Harrington, Texas State
Rising stock: Sam Houston State
Falling stock: Texas-Arlington
Regional contenders: Texas State, Sam Houston State
Injuries to note: Zach Calhoon, UTSA
2. Murray State
3. Morehead State
4. Tennessee Tech
5. Jacksonville State
6. Austin Peay
7. Southeast Missouri
8. Eastern Kentucky
1B Wes Cunningham, Murray State
2B Jonathan Craycraft, Murray State
SS Drew Lee, Morehead State
3B Jayson Langfels, Eastern Kentucky
OF Todd Cunningham, Jacksonville State
OF Daniel Hill, Murray State
OF J.D. Ashbrook, Morehead State
DH A.J. Kirby-Jones, Tennessee Tech
SP Mike Recchia, Eastern Illinois
SP Chris Craycraft, Murray State
SP Lee Henry, Tennessee Tech
RP Bill Henke, Jacksonville State
Mike Recchia, Eastern Illinois
Drew Lee, Morehead State
You will be hard pressed to find a program more motivated entering the season than Eastern Illinois.
The Panthers tallied some marquee wins last season and compiled an impressive 36-14 record as a northern school. They also won the OVC regular season title by more than two games over second-place Murray State.
Somehow, the NCAA Selection Committee felt EIU didn't deserve a regional bid.
Murray State and Morehead State are programs that made strides last season. Both are expected to be very offensive this season. There's also Tennessee Tech, which welcomes back six position starters and one of the league's best pitchers in Lee Henry.
Austin Peay will be improved, while Southeast Missouri must find a way to overcome some tough losses to once again finish in the top half of the conference.
AT A GLANCE
Regular-season winner last season: Eastern Illinois
Tournament winner last season: Tennessee Tech
New coaches: None
Coach on the rise: Jim Schmitz, Eastern Illinois
Rising stock: Murray State
Falling stock: Southeast Missouri
Regional contenders: Eastern Illinois
Injuries to note: Richie Derbak, Eastern Illinois (will only pitch), Adam Liberatore (arm, miss a few weeks), Tennessee Tech, Jared Dobbs (shoulder), Tennessee Tech, Greg Bachman (shoulder), Austin Peay, Matt Fyffe (shoulder), Eastern Kentucky, Jim Clancy (shoulder), Eastern Kentucky, Chris Hord (shoulder), Eastern Kentucky.
- Sam Houston State
- Murray State
- Morehead State
- Eastern Illinois
- Eric Harrington