The Missouri Southern baseball team has been picked to defend its MIAA Title as the league released the 2016 Preseason Coaches Poll this week.
Southern won the 2015 regular season and post season MIAA Championships and picked up 11 of the 13 possible first-place votes and 166 points. Emporia State was picked second and received one first-place vote, while Central Missouri was third and picked up two first-place votes.
Lindenwood was fourth, followed by Missouri Western, Washburn, Nebraska-Kearney, Central Oklahoma, Fort Hays and Northeastern State to round out the top ten. Southwest Baptist, Northwest Missouri, Pittsburg State and Lincoln round out the poll.
Southern had eight named to the All-MIAA team last season including returning MIAA Pitcher of the Year Cody Hutchinson. Head coach Bryce Darnell was also named the MIAA Coach of the Year. Four Lions (Hutchinson, Payton Walker, Jesse Rall and Chris Hoffman) all earned All-Region honors and all return this year to lead the team. Hutchinson, Rall and Hoffman were all named to multiple All-America teams.
The Lions will open up the 2016 season at home, playing host to Bemidji State in a four-game series from Feb. 12-14.
The complete poll is listed below.
2016 MIAA Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Missouri Southern (11) 166
2. Emporia State (1) 152
3. Central Missouri (2) 141
4. Lindenwood 122
5. Missouri Western 120
6. Washburn 114
7. Nebraska-Kearney 97
8. Central Oklahoma 87
9. Fort Hays State 64
10. Northeastern State 60
11. Southwest Baptist 47
12. Northwest Missouri 46
13. Pittsburg State 45
14. Lincoln 13