FORT SMITH, Ark. – UAFS added a new chapter to the school history book last spring when the Lions baseball team set the school record for wins as a NCAA Division II program and advanced to their first-ever NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament.
That remarkable run, which ended with the Lions finishing as region runner-up, left an impression on Heartland Conference coaches and sports information directors, who picked the Lions to finish second in the conference this spring.
UAFS received one first-place vote and 97 total points in the voting for the preseason poll, which was released on Tuesday morning. The Lions return a potent outfield duo in this spring led by All-Heartland Preseason selection Dion Williams, who was the 2017 Heartland Newcomer of the Year, and the reigning Freshman of the Year Logan Allen.
Reigning conference champion Lubbock Christian is the favorite to repeat as league champs, receiving 13 of the 16 first-place votes and 124 total points in the voting. It’s the second-consecutive year the Chaps have been tabbed as the favorite.
LCU returns a trio of All-Heartland Preseason Team selections, including reigning Conference Pitcher of the Year Ricky Contreras. Contreras, along with designated hitter Ryan Rogers and pitcher Daniel Crooks, was named to the Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-America Team.
St. Edward’s received 96 total points and was picked third. St. Mary’s was picked to finish fourth, receiving two first-place votes and 91 total points. Oklahoma Christian received 64 points and was picked fifth, followed by Rogers State (51), Newman (34) and Texas A&M International (19).