Feb. 1, 2011

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Illinois State edges Wichita State for No. 1 in MVC poll


Illinois State won a share of its first regular-season title a season ago, and the coaches in the Missouri Valley Conference expect them to repeat as the league released it preseason poll.


The Redbirds split the eight first-place votes with second-place Wichita State, but registered 58 points to 53 for the Shockers. Junior second baseman Kevin Tokarski was the Player of the Year in the MVC a season ago for Illinois State as the Redbirds return their entire infield from 2010. Illinois State has seven position starters back and 19 letter-winners from a team that won the MVC tourney title as well.


Wichita State returns five position starters, eight pitchers and 16 letter-winners. The Shockers posted 41 victories a season ago and bring back four of their five top starters from a staff that registered a 4.45 ERA. The top hurler is first team all-MVC pick Tim Kelley, who was 11-2 with a 3.94 ERA in 2010.


Evansville came in third in the MVC preseason poll, followed by Indiana State, Creighton, Missouri State, Southern Illinois and Bradley.


The 2010 season starts on Friday, Feb. 18, with all eight teams in action. Conference play begins on Friday, April 8. Creighton will host the 2011 MVC Tournament May 24-28 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, the new home for the College World Series.


MVC Preseason Poll

Team, Points (First Place) (2010 MVC, Overall Records)

1. Illinois State, 58 (4) (15-6, 32-24)

2. Wichita State, 53 (4) (15-6, 41-19)

3. Evansville, 41 (10-11, 32-27)

4. Indiana State, 37 (10-10, 35-19)

5. Creighton, 35 (9-12, 27-25)

6. Missouri State, 27 (6-15, 21-34)

7. Southern Illinois, 25 (10-10, 28-29)

8. Bradley, 13 (8-13, 20-32)