Josh Cooper was named Preseason All-MWC Wednesday.
Jan. 25, 2006
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- In its first year of competition in the Mountain West, TCU has been picked to win the regular season Mountain West Conference baseball championship. In a vote of the seven MWC head coaches and a select media panel, the Horned Frogs received 11 of a possible 13 first-place votes and 89 points. San Diego State and UNLV (one first-place nod) each received 66 points to finish tied for second in the poll.
BYU garnered the other first-place vote and tallied 64 points for a fourth-place standing. New Mexico (36 points) was fifth, Utah (28 points) sixth and Air Force (15 points) seventh. SDSU placed four players on the preseason all-MWC team, followed by BYU, New Mexico and Utah with two each, and UNLV with one.
TCU, ranked as high as No. 19 in national preseason polls, returns seven starters from last year's NCAA Tournament squad, including NCBWA preseason second team All-American Chad Huffman (Jr., IF), 2005 all-Conference USA Freshman Team selections Matt McGuirk (So., OF) and Andrew Walker (So., C), as well as Sam Demel (So., RHP). The Horned Frogs were 41-20 overall last season (20-10 C-USA) and were co-champions at the Conference USA postseason tournament.
San Diego State returns six starters, including preseason all-league picks Jordan Swaydan (Sr., C), Lance Zawadski (Jr., SS), Quintin Berry (Jr., OF) and 2005 MWC Pitcher of the Year Bruce Billings (Sr., RHP). The Aztecs were 26-35 last season (17-13 MWC) finishing third in the regular season standings. UNLV won its third consecutive MWC Tournament crown last season, and will be led by preseason all-conference selection Ryan Bird (Sr., OF), 2005 All-MWC team member Mike Cruz (Sr., 3B) and Chris Bonnell (Jr., 1B). The Rebels return five starters from last year.
BYU returns five starters from last year's second-place MWC squad that finished 21-9 (39-19-1 overall), including preseason all-conference selections Ben Saylor (Sr., 1B) and Jeff Hiestand (Sr., OF), while New Mexico returns seven starters (10 letterwinners overall), including Louisville Slugger All-Americans Chris Carlson (Jr., DH) and Jordan Pacheco (So., 2B).
Air Force has six starters back, including returning team batting leader Karl Bolt (Jr., 1B).
The regular season opens Feb. 1, with San Diego State playing the first of a four-game series at Hawaii. UNLV and Utah will also see action next week, with the Rebels in a three-game series at Pepperdine and the Utes at New Mexico State for a three-game tilt. The conference season begins April 6-7, with the MWC Championship scheduled for May 23-27 at Earl E. Wilson Stadium in Las Vegas.