Feb. 7, 2012

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Austin Peay picked to win again in OVC


Defending champion Austin Peay is the pick again in the Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Poll, in voting by the league’s head coaches and released by the conference office.


The Govs captured both the regular season and tournament titles in 2011. Austin Peay picked up seven first-place votes and 79 points. Jacksonville State earned one first-place vote and 73 points to place second. Tennessee Tech took two first-place votes and 63 points to sit third, followed by Southeast Missouri, SIUE, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Illinois, UT Martin, Murray State and Morehead State.


Austin Peay did not make the OVC tourney field in either 2009 or 2010 and was picked seventh in last year’s preseason poll, but roared to a 17-6 conference mark. The Govs edged host Georgia Tech 2-1 on the first day of the Atlanta Regional before falling to Mississippi State and Tech to complete the comeback season. Head coach Gary McClure, in his 25th season at his alma mater, returns eight position starters and three starting pitchers from last year’s championship team.


The Gamecocks finished second to Austin Peay in the 2011 OVC Tourmanent. Jacksonville State enjoyed its ninth consecutive 30-win season, tied for the longest stretch in program history. The Gamecocks also return eight position starters and bring back five pitchers. Head coach Jim Case, in his 11th season at Jacksonville State, has 25 of 30 letterwinners back.


The Golden Eagles also bring back eight position starters, part of their 16 letterwinners back. Ninth-year head coach Matt Bragga led Tennessee Tech to the 2010 OVC regular-season title and the 2009 OVC tourney crown.


The 64th season of OVC kicks off on Friday, Feb. 17, with all 10 squads in action. Conference play commences the weekend of March 23-25. For the first time, teams will play three-game conference series over three days instead of a doubleheader on Saturday and a single game on Sunday. The top six teams will advance to the OVC Tournament on May 23-27 at Pringles Park in Jackson, Tenn.


2012 OVC Preseason Poll


Team, Points (First Place) (2011 OVC, Overall Records)

1. Austin Peay, 79 (7) (17-6, 34-24)

2. Jacksonville State, 73 (1) (14-9, 36-23)

3. Tennessee Tech, 63 (2) (12-12, 25-29)

4. Southeast Missouri, 52 (14-8, 34-22)

5. SIUE, 48 (0-0, 28-24)

6. Eastern Kentucky, 45 (11-13, 21-36)

7. Eastern Illinois, 34 (9-12, 18-33)

8. UT Martin, 25 (10-13, 20-36)

9. Murray State, 21 (9-13, 19-32)

10. Morehead State, 10 (6-16, 10-39)