The defending Southland Conference baseball champion McNeese Cowboys have been projected for a third place finish in this year's league standings according to the head coaches and baseball sports information directors, the conference released on Thursday.
The Cowboys, who tied a school record with 22 league victories in 2017, won the Southland by two games for their first conference title since 2006.
McNeese tallied 246 points in the poll with one first place vote. Sam Houston State is the preseason favorite, garnering 282 points with 18 first place votes, followed by Southeastern Louisiana with 261 points and seven first place marks.
Both SHSU and SLU will visit Joe Miller Ballpark this season – the Lions on March 29-31 and Sam Houston State April 27-29.
In addition to its 22-8 conference mark last season, McNeese won its first nine league games and first 13 conference games at home where it finished 15-3 at The Jeaux in SLC action.
McNeese returns five position and three pitching starters from last season, including first team all-SLC selection Joe Provenzano and Shane Selman. Selman was the league's Hitter of the Year in 2017.
Following McNeese in the poll are Central Arkansas, Houston Baptist, Lamar, UNO, Stephen F. Austin, Nicholls, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Northwestern State, Abilene Christian and UIW.
In addition to hosting Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana, the Cowboys will also welcome UCA, Abilene Christian and Northwestern State.
The Cowboys will open the season next Friday at home against Wichita State and will kick off the conference slate March 9 at home against Central Arkansas.
2018 SLC Baseball Preseason Poll
1. Sam Houston State (18), 282
2. Southeastern Louisiana (7), 261
3. McNeese (1), 246
4. Central Arkansas, 202
5. Houston Baptist, 185
6. Lamar, 172
7. New Orleans, 168
8. Stephen F. Austin, 144
9. Nicholls, 122
10. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 92
11. Northwestern State, 74
T12. Abilene Christian, 40
T12. Incarnate Word, 40
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