MAGNOLIA, Ark. (SAU) - Southern Arkansas enters the 2013 baseball season ranked 24th in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper (CBN) NCAA Division II coaches' pre-season top 40 poll.
The Muleriders finished the 2012 season 37-17 and were ranked 26th in the final coaches' CBN poll after claiming both the inaugural Great American Conference regular season and tournament championships and advancing to their fifth consecutive and seventh overall NCAA regional appearance.
SAU received 258 points and is the lone member of the GAC in the 2013 CBN top 40 preseason poll. Southeastern Oklahoma State was among others receiving votes, with 12.
Defending national champion West Chester (Pa.) (46-10) holds down the top spot in the poll, tallying 628 points, and is followed by Delta State (Miss.) (49-15, 614 points), the opponent it beat 9-0 in last year's championship game. Mount Olive (N.C.) (44-10, 608) sits at third, Central Missouri (48-9, 596) is fourth and St. Mary's (Texas) (49-11, 588) rounds out the top five.
St. Mary's defeated Southern Arkansas in the second round of last year's South Central region tournament before Central Missouri eliminated the Muleriders in the next round.
The rest of 2012's national championship field is also ranked in the poll. Minnesota State-Mankato (51-12) is picked eighth, California State-Chico (40-19), Indianapolis (Ind.) (46-16) and Catawba (N.C.) (45-17) are 11th, 12th and 13th, respectively, and Southern New Hampshire (43-15) is 18th.
Southern Arkansas opens the season February 3 in Fort Worth, Texas, in a neutral-site doubleheader with Cameron (Okla.). They host their home-opener February 5 in a doubleheader with Wiley (Texas), and begin conference play February 15-16 against Southwestern Oklahoma State in Magnolia.
The Muleriders travel February 8-9 to face preseason 35th-ranked Angelo State in San Angelo, Texas, and will face highly ranked Delta State twice, March 5 in Magnolia and April 10 in Cleveland, Miss.