The Western Athletic Conference released the 2012 Preseason Poll and Preseason All-WAC Team, Wednesday, Feb. 8, and the coaches selected Fresno State as the favorite to win the 2012 league regular season title, while New Mexico State University was picked to finish tied for fourth with Nevada. The coaches also voted on a preseason all-WAC team with New Mexico State leading the way as it placed five players on the team.
Fresno State received 33 points and four first place votes after a 40-16 season last year. The Bulldogs have won the WAC regular season title five out of the past six seasons. San Jose State ranked second with 31 points and three first place votes. SJSU was followed by Hawai'i with 29, Nevada and New Mexico State with 17, Louisiana Tech with 14 points, and Sacramento State with six.
"Fresno has been the one of the top two teams the past few years so Fresno getting the top spot in the preseason poll isn't too much of a surprise," head coach Rocky Ward said. "Fourth is fine because it is the middle of the league and it is what would be expected because that is about where we finished last year in league play."
NM State junior catcher Zac Fisher was named the Preseason Player of the Year, while San Jose State junior Zack Jones was picked the Preseason Pitcher of the Year. Joining Fisher on the preseason team are sophomore outfielder Tanner Waite, senior outfielder Bryan Karraker, junior second baseman Parker Hipp, junior catcher Zac Fisher and senior relief pitcher Scott Coffman.
"I am really please, although I think (Zach) Voight should have been recognized as well, but he is playing a new position," Ward said. "This is about our kids getting recognized for the hard work they put in the previous year and I think each of these guys are very deserving."
Fisher was picked as the Preseason Player of the Year after hitting .398 last year with 68 hits, 35 runs, 56 RBI, 16 doubles and eight home runs. Sophomore Parker Hipp was also a huge factor for the Aggie offense finishing second on the team in batting average at .396, while recording 67 hits (second on the team) despite missing several games due to injury. He was also second on the team in slugging percentage at .574 and was second in the Western Athletic Conference in RBI with 58.
Junior closer Scott Coffman tied the school record with nine saves on the year and is second in the record books with 14-career saves. He finished the year with a 3-0 record and a 1.88 ERA, while earning first team all-WAC honors.
Waite played in 57 games, starting in 47 of them as the primary left fielder for the Aggies in 2011. He finished third on the team and 29th in the country with a .389 batting average. Waite, a first team All-WAC selection after hitting .350 in league play, posted 43 RBI while hitting in the No. 2 spot on the lineup 25 times and in the No. 5 spot 18 times. Karraker was the primary right fielder for NM State in 2011 playing in 55 games and starting in 47. He finished fifth on the team and No. 196 (out of 500 ranked) in the country with a .350 batting average. He finished the year scoring 55 runs, which was second most on the team and 55th most in the nation.
The 50th year of WAC baseball begins Friday, February 17 when each of the league's seven teams will open regular season play. The WAC Tournament will be held in Mesa, Arizona at Hohokam Stadium, May 23-27. The top six teams will advance to the tournament.
2012 WAC Baseball Coaches' Poll (Points awarded on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis as coaches
were not allowed to vote for their own teams)
Rk. Team (first-place votes) Total
1. Fresno State (4) 33
2. San Jose State (3) 31
3. Hawai'i 29
T4. Nevada 17
T4. New Mexico State 17
6. Louisiana Tech 14
7. Sacramento State 6
Preseason All-WAC Team
OF Aaron Judge, So., Fresno State
OF Breland Almadova, Jr., Hawai'i
OF Tanner Waite, So., New Mexico State
OF Bryan Karraker, Sr., New Mexico State
1B Clay Cederquist, Jr., Sacramento State
2B Parker Hipp, Jr., New Mexico State
SS Pi'ikea Kitamura, Jr., Hawai'i
3B Collin Bennett, Sr., Hawai'i
C Zac Fisher, Jr., New Mexico State
DH Zack Jones, Jr., San Jose State
UTI Mike Aldrete, Jr., San Jose State
SP Matt Sisto, Sr., Hawai'i
SP Tyler Linehan, So., Fresno State
SP Tom Jameson, Jr., Nevada
RP Zack Jones, Jr., San Jose State
RP Scott Coffman, Sr., New Mexico State
Player of the Year
Zac Fisher, Jr., C, New Mexico State
Pitcher of the Year
Zack Jones, Jr., San Jose State