|HOW THEY’LL FINISH|
|Sam Houston State||24||9||40||22|
|Stephen F. Austin State||16||17||26||33|
|Texas A&M-Corpus Christi||14||19||24||33|
|*2012 conference championTeams in bold are 2012 NCAA tournament participants. Teams are listed in predicted order of finish. Records listed are from 2012 season.|
|Projected NCAA Teams (1): Sam Houston State.|
|Conference Schedule: 27 games, begins March 9.|
|Conference Tournament: Eight teams, May 22-25, at Sugarland, Texas.|
|Player of the Year: Hunter Dozier, ss/rhp, Stephen F. Austin State.|
|Pitcher of the Year: Caleb Smith, rhp, Sam Houston State.|
|TOP PROSPECTS, 2013-2014 DRAFTS|
|1.||Hunter Dozier, ss, Stephen F. Austin|
|2.||Alex Gonzalez, rhp, Oral Roberts|
|3.||Cody Dickson, lhp, Sam Houston State|
|4.||Jose Trevino, 3b/c, Oral Roberts (2014)|
|5.||Caleb Smith, rhp, Sam Houston State|
|6.||Michael Clemens, rhp, McNeese State (2014)|
|7.||Jonathan Davis, of, Central Arkansas|
|8.||A.J. Longoria, rhp, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi|
|9.||Jeff Enloe, lhp, Central Arkansas|
|10.||Taylor Byrd, lhp, Nicholls State|
|1.||Jameson Fisher, c, Southeastern Louisiana (HS—Zachary, La.)|
|2.||A.J. Longoria, rhp, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Tr.—St. Mary’s, Texas)|
|3.||Taylor Byrd, lhp, Nicholls State (Tr.—Pearl River, Miss. CC)|
|4.||Tyler Boss, of, Oral Roberts (Tr.—Blinn, Texas, JC)|
|5.||Jason Simms, rhp, Sam Houston State (Tr.—Blinn, Texas, JC)|
• Conference realignment has affected the Southland as much as any conference. The league added Oral Roberts from the Summit League, but lost charter member UT Arlington, as well as UT San Antonio and Texas State to the Western Athletic Conference. The league will add Abilene Christian (from Division II), New Orleans (currently an independent), Incarnate Word (a Division II school in San Antonio) and Houston Baptist (independent) in the future.
• Oral Roberts has been to regionals every year since 1998 by winning its previous league and will find the sledding tougher in the Southland while breaking in a new head coach. Rob Walton left to become an assistant at Oklahoma State, with Ryan Folmar succeeding him. Folmar welcomes back a talented, experienced group with a sound rotation. Fifth-year Sr. RHP Drew Bowen (7-2, 1.95) has thrived in the BBCOR era, posting back-to-back sub-2.00 ERAs. Scouts are intrigued by Jr. RHP Alex Gonzalez, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound loose-armed sinkerballer who pitches with average-to-plus velocity and above-average life on his fastball. So. 3B/C Jose Trevino (.317/.358/.573, 13 HR) earned a spot on USA Baseball’s College National Team with his bat and versatility and returns to lead the offense.
• Sam Houston State added coach David Pierce from Rice’s staff, and he hit the ground running with a 40-win season and a conference title last year, just the second in Bearkats’ history. Pitching makes them the league favorite in 2013 as ace Jr. RHP Caleb Smith (8-6, 3.23, 98 IP/82 SO) returns to the Friday role. When he’s at his best, both his fastball and changeup are above-average pitches. Jr. LHP Cody Dickson (4-5, 3.25) moves into a full-time weekend role, coming off a strong summer when he ranked as the California Collegiate League’s No. 1 prospect. Dickson touched 95 mph with his fastball and flashed a pair of strong secondary pitches in his curveball and changeup. Seven starters return to an experienced lineup that only lacks power.
• Southeastern Louisiana has risen to the top of the Southland’s four-team contingent from the Bayou State; McNeese State, Northwestern State (where Lane Burroughs takes over as head coach for the fired J.P. Davis) and Nicholls State are expected to struggle to stay out of the league cellar. Head coach Jay Artigues has led the Lions to a winning record every year since his initial season in 2006, and narrowly missed making their first regional trip since 1994. They lost stalwart SS/2B Brock Hebert and national saves leader Stefan Lopez, but the entire weekend rotation returns, starting with So. RHP Andro Cutura (6-1, 3.30), while a pair of intriguing freshmen, LHP Kyle Cedotal and RHP Tate Scioneaux, will compete for weekend innings. Jr. RHP Dylan Hills (9-4, 1.64, 49 IP/51 SO) moves from the setup role to take over Lopez’s closing duties, and his low-80s cutter makes him the team’s top pro prospect.