January 28, 2014 10:44:50 AM
STARKVILLE -- Coming off its ninth NCAA College World Series trip, the Mississippi State baseball program was ranked in the top 10 in Baseball America and Perfect Game's preseason polls, each organization announced Monday.
Perfect Game has coach John Cohen's club No. 6, while Baseball America ranks MSU No. 8. Last month, Collegiate Baseball ranked MSU No. 2 in its preseason poll.
Virginia, Oregon State, Indiana, Cal State Fullerton, North Carolina State, Florida State, and South Carolina come in before No. 8 MSU. LSU, which MSU will face April 4-6, and Vanderbilt, which MSU will play March 21-23, round out the top 10.
Perfect Game also listed Virginia No. 1, followed by Cal State Fullerton, Oregon State, FSU, Indiana, and MSU.
In the Baseball America preseason poll, MSU and Alabama are two of eight Southeastern Conference schools ranked in the preseason top 25 poll.
In addition to South Carolina, LSU, and Vanderbilt, Florida (No. 23), Texas A&M (No. 24), and Arkansas (No. 25) also are ranked.
Seven teams from the SEC are in the Perfect Game USA preseason poll in addition to MSU, Alabama, and South Carolina -- Vanderbilt (No. 11), LSU (No. 12), Florida (No. 15), and Texas A&M (No. 19).
MSU will open the season at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, against Hofstra. Co-captains Wes Rea and Ben Bracewell and preseason All-Americans Jonathan Holder and Ross Mitchell will try to help MSU get back to the College World Series. Last season, MSU lost to UCLA in the College World Series Championship series.
Alabama will play host to Saint Louis on Feb. 14 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide return 21 players, including five position starters and four starting pitchers, from the 2013 NCAA Regional squad. Highlighting the list of returners are 2013 freshmen All-Americans Mikey White (shortstop) and Ray Castillo (pitcher) and 2013 Gold Glove second baseman Kyle Overstreet.
Alabama also returns starters in junior right fielder Ben Moore, sophomore center fielder Georgie Salem and sophomore Chance Vincent, who ended the 2013 season as the team's designated hitter. On the mound, Alabama returns 2013 weekend starters Spencer Turnbull and Justin Kamplain and a host of bullpen pitchers, including Tucker Hawley, Jay Shaw, Jake Hubbard, Mitch Greet, Jon Keller, and Mike Oczypok