Feb. 5, 2009

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Illinois-Chicago is First in Horizon League Preseason Poll


Illinois-Chicago is expected to repeat as champion of the Horizon League, in voting by the conference’s head coaches and released by the league office.


The Flames earned 36 points and received the maximum six first-place votes as coaches could not vote for their own teams. UIC was 35-22 a year ago, including 17-6 in league play.


Wright State received the other first-place vote and had 29 points for second place. Milwaukee was third, followed by Youngstown State, Valparaiso, Cleveland State and Butler.


YSU right-hander Aaron Swenson, the league’s 2008 Pitcher of the Year, highlights a group of six returning All-Horizon League First Team performers. Catcher Gerald Ogrinc (pictured left), infielder Jeff Mercer and lefty Jon Durket return for Wright State, while outfielder Brad Buell is back for Cleveland State and utility player Andy Gerhartz returns for Milwaukee. 

Six conference teams open play the weekend of Feb. 20-22, with four facing Top Ten opponents. Wright State heads to Texas A&M, No. 4 in the CBI Composite Preseason Poll. Youngstown State plays at No. 5 Georgia, UIC visits No. 6 Texas, and Milwaukee travels to No. 7 Arizona State. Cleveland State plays at Georgia State and Valparaiso heads to Morehead State.

The 2009 Horizon League Championship will be May 19-23 at Pipe Yard Stadium in Lorain, Ohio, with Cleveland State as host. All seven conference teams will compete in the double-elimination tournament.


Horizon League Preseason Poll

1. Illinois-Chicago (6) 36 (35-22, 17-6)

2. Wright State (1) 29 (30-23, 16-6)

3. Milwaukee 26 (25-36, 11-15)

4. Youngstown State 21 (23-33, 13-12)

5. Valparaiso 15 (21-35, 8-13)

6. Cleveland State 14 (22-31, 10-13)

7. Butler 6 (12-34, 7-17)

 (photo by Greg Campbell)