MTSU Baseball

MTSU ranks on C-USA preseason coaches poll

Photo by John Rollins / Sidelines Archive

Story by Ryan Nixon / Contributing Writer

Conference USA released their coaches preseason baseball poll and the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders were picked to finish tenth in the 12-team league.

The ball club finished with a 20-35 record last season, including a 5-24 mark in conference play. With the return of a lot of young players, it shouldn’t come as a shock if the team goes beyond its expectations for this season.  Head coach Jim McGuire thinks that his team is more talented than the poll may indicate.

“Obviously I think we’re a lot better than where they picked us, but I feel that way every year,” McGuire said in a press release by MT Athletics. “We’re a year older, so I think we have a really good chance to surprise people.”

Two of the players returning had standout seasons in 2016. First-team All-Conference USA selection Riley Delgado led MTSU in batting average with a .388 mark that also ranked 19th in the country. Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American Blake Benefield led the team with eight home runs and 32 RBIs.

Benefield also became the first Blue Raider to be awarded a national player of the week award.

In addition to Delgado and Benefield, look for sophomores Drew Huff, A.J. Spencer, and Austin Dennis to also turn heads this season.

The team’s first spring practice is Friday, but McGuire doesn’t think there will be much rust for the team to shake off.

“Everyone came back in great shape and healthy and ready to go. That was really important for us and that progression continued from the fall to the winter to now,” McGuire said. “We’re ready to start our spring practice.”

The Blue Raiders first game is February 17th at Georgia Southern. First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m.

Below are the entire preseason standings and all-conference picks:

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Rice
2. Florida Atlantic
3. Southern Miss
4. Old Dominion
5. Louisiana Tech
6. Charlotte
7. FIU
8. Marshall
9. UAB
10. Middle Tennessee
11. UTSA
12. WKU

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

P Kirk McCarty (Junior, Southern Miss)
P Ricardo Salinas (Junior, Rice)
P Casey Sutton (Senior, Louisiana Tech)
RP Glenn Otto (Junior, Rice)
C Brent Diaz (Junior, Louisiana Tech)
IF Taylor Braley (Junior, Southern Miss)
IF Dylan Burdeaux (Senior, Southern Miss)
IF Brett Netzer (Junior, Charlotte)
IF Ford Proctor (Sophomore, Rice)
IF Logan Sherer (Senior, Charlotte)
OF Jesse Baker (Senior, UTSA)
OF T.J. Nichting (Senior, Charlotte)
OF Charlie Warren (Senior, Rice)
DH/UT Sean Labsan (Senior, Florida Atlantic)
DH/UT Jonathan Washam (Senior, Louisiana Tech)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

IF Ford Proctor (Sophomore, Rice)

PITCHER OF THE YEAR

RHP Glenn Otto (Junior, Rice)

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To contact Sports Editor Tyler Lamb (@Tlamb35), email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

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