Jan. 17, 2008
WACO, Texas -- Baylor baseball received a pair of top-30 preseason national rankings Thursday. The Bears were ranked 17th nationally in Perfect Game Crosschecker's list of the top 100 teams for 2008, while the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association tabbed the Bears 26th in its preseason Top 35.
One of only 15 Division I programs with at least nine NCAA Regional appearances in the past 10 years, Baylor was 35-27 last season. The Bears reached the title game of the Big 12 Conference Championship and participated in the NCAA Houston Regional for the second consecutive season.
Arizona was the top-ranked team according to Perfect Game Crosschecker, while Arizona State was the top pick in the NCBWA rankings. All 10 baseball-playing Big 12 schools appeared in the Perfect Game Top 100: Texas (3rd), Missouri (10th), Oklahoma State (14th), Texas A&M (26th), Oklahoma (45th), Kansas State (50th), Nebraska (62nd), Texas Tech (78th) and Kansas (91st). Texas was sixth in the NCBWA rankings, followed by Missouri (17th), Texas A&M (20th) and Oklahoma State (27th).
Baylor returns six of nine position starters from 2007 and a seventh player, senior co-captain Paul Miles, made 27 starts last season. Included in that group are all four infield starters: two-time All-Big 12 Conference shortstop and 2008 Preseason All-American Beamer Weems, 2007 Freshman All-American Raynor Campbell, Shaver Hansen and Dustin Dickerson. Ben Booker, a 2007 honorable mention All-Big 12 honoree, returns in left field, while Aaron Miller returns in right.
Eight of 11 letter-winning pitchers from last season return, including co-captain and Preseason All-America closer Nick Cassavechia. The Bears also return sophomore right-hander Kendal Volz, a 2007 honorable mention All-Big 12, and sophomore right-handers Willie Kempf and Wade Mackey, both of whom were fixtures on the mound last season. Senior right-handers Randall Linebaugh and Tim Matthews also return along with southpaws William Draper and Drew Jeffcoat, while the Bears add redshirt freshmen right-handers Craig Fritsch and Shawn Tolleson to the fray.
Earlier during the preseason, Baylor was slotted 28th in the Collegiate Baseball Preseason Top 40 and 18th in the Rivals.com preseason rankings.
Baylor opens its 2008 season Feb. 22-24, hosting Purdue for a three-game series at Baylor Ballpark.