Austin Peay is picked the win the league after picking up 14 first-place votes and 193 points, just ahead of OVC newcomer Belmont's total of 182 points. The Gamecocks received 156 points for third, followed by Eastern Kentucky (139), Eastern Illinois (133), Tennessee Tech (107), SIUE (91), Southeast Missouri (73), Morehead State (70), Murray State (45) and UT Martin (21).
In additional voting, APSU junior second baseman Jordan Hankins and Tennessee Tech junior first baseman Zach Stephens were named OVC Preseason Co-Players of the Year, while Belmont senior lefty Chase Brookshire was tabbed OVC Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
The 2013 edition of the Gamecock baseball team features 19 returning players from last year's team and 13 newcomers that will be looking to replace three Major League Baseball draftees in Ben Waldrip (10th round/Colorado Rockies), Sam Eberle (25th rounds/San Francisco Giants) and Daniel Watts (32nd round/Arizona Diamondbacks).
This year's squad includes five seniors, 14 juniors, five sophomores and nine freshmen, including four position starters and seven returning pitchers.
"We will have all new starters this year and a new closer," said head coach Jim Case, who begins his 12th season guiding the Gamecocks in 2013. "But, we do have some guys that have some experience and their roles are going to increase and it's opportunity for them."
Ohio Valley Conference All-Freshman selection Travis Stout returns as one of the Gamecocks top pitchers after posting a 5-1 record in three starts and 24 relief appearances last year.
Seniors Robby Lilly, Ben Haynes, and Cody Ponder, juniors Casey Antley, Michael Barber, Bradley Raulston, Michael Mason, Adam Polk and Taylor Shields, sophomores Taylor Sparks and Tony Urban, and freshmen Kurt Lipscomb and Graham Officer will also see action on the mound in 2013 for the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks' top offensive returners include junior catcher Cal Lambert (.271 avg/23 RBI), Andrew Bishop, (.237 avg/15 RBI) and Coty Blanchard (.230 avg). Blanchard and Bishop both spent last summer playing in the prestigious Cape Cod League, and both were named to the 2011 OVC All-Freshman team.
"This is going to be a different team, we are not going to hit as many home runs as the past, but I think this team will be able to run," added Case. "I really believe this team has a chance to play really good defense, which could be a big help to a young pitching staff."
Junior Eddie Mora-Loera and sophomore Colby Dixson join freshmen Tyler Gamble, Paschal Petrongolo, Sanders Ferrell, Gavin Golsan and A.J. Reynolds are all expected to add depth to the JSU infield.
In the outfield, Junior Michael Bishop returns after hitting three home runs and driving in 17 RBI last season. Other outfielders include returning seniors Zach Elbirt and Adam Miller, while newcomers Chase Silvani, Griff Gordon and freshman Ty Pierce will add depth to the outfield position.
The Gamecocks will open the 64th season of their storied baseball history with a three-game series at Kennesaw State on Feb. 15th. Jax State will host UAB in the home-opener at Rudy Abbott Field on Tuesday Feb. 19 at 3 p.m.
Season tickets are now available by calling the JSU Athletic Ticket Office at 256-782-8499 or online at JSUGamecockSports.com.
2013 OVC PRESEASON POLL
Order of Finish - Points
1. Austin Peay (14) - 193
2. Belmont (8) - 182
3. Jacksonville State - 156
4. Eastern Kentucky - 139
5. Eastern Illinois - 133
6. Tennessee Tech - 107
7. SIUE - 91
8. Southeast Missouri - 73
9. Morehead State - 70
10. Murray State - 45
11. UT Martin - 21