2012 Southwestern Athletic Conference

*2011 automatic qualifier. 2011 NCAA regional participants in bold (2011 records listed; 2012 national rankings in parentheses)

Conference Overall
*Alcorn State 19 4 27 30
Alabama State 6 18 14 29
Jackson State 14 10 27 26
Mississippi Valley State 14 9 18 36
Alabama A&M 6 18 10 37
Southern 16 8 26 18
Grambling State 14 10 23 26
Prairie View A&M 13 11 25 21
Texas Southern 10 14 24 28
Arkansas-Pine Bluff 7 17 11 34
Projected NCAA Teams (1): Alcorn State.
Conference Schedule: 24 games; begins March 23.
Conference Tournament: Eight teams, May 23-27 at Pearl, Miss.
Player of the Year: Eduardo Gonzalez, 1b, Alcorn State.
Pitcher of the Year: Jose De Leon, rhp, Southern.

1. Jose De Leon, rhp, Southern (2013)
2. Eduardo Gonzalez, 1b, Alcorn State
3. Abel Flores, rhp, Texas Southern
4. Charles Epperson, of, Jackson State
5. Ryan Epperson, of, Alabama State

1. Emmanuel Marrero, ss, Alabama State (HS—Caguas, P.R.)
2. Joel Alvira, rhp, Alabama State (HS—Fajardo, P.R.)
3. Lionel Morrill, of, Grambling (Tr.—JC of Southern Idaho)
4. Pervis Mann, lhp, Grambling (Tr.—East Central, Miss., CC)
5. Waldyvan Estrada, of, Alabama State (HS—Loiza, P.R.)
Pedro Darrion
• Mervyl Melendez takes over as the head coach at Alabama State, bringing an impressive resume from fellow HBCU Bethune-Cookman. Melendez’s Wildcats won 11 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles in 12 seasons; he replaces Larry Watkins, the dean of SWAC coaches after a 30-year tenure and .399 winning percentage. Alabama State’s last winning season was in 2000. Melendez already has turned over the roster, with 22 freshmen and just six holdover players. The top returnees are speedy Sr. OF Ryan Epperson (pictured at left, .324/.378/.441, 10 SB), who got just 68 at-bats a year ago; and Sr. 3B Darrion Pedro (pictured at right, .268/.341/.389, 12 SB). Pedro slides from shortstop to third to make room for Fr. Emmanuel Marrero, who originally signed with B-CU but followed Melendez to Alabama State. He’s a switch-hitter who plays with energy and is a slick fielder. He will play next to 2B Leo Rojas, a transfer from St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC who is the son of ex-big leaguer Alvaro Espinosa.

• Alabama A&M also got a new coach as Ed McCann resigned in January, leaving baseball for health reasons and to go into private business. Michael Tompkins was made the interim head coach and at 24 is the youngest head coach in Division I. Tompkins played for McCann’s last team at Centenary before that athletic department dropped to Division III; Tompkins was a two-way player for the Gents in 2010.

• Barret Rey enters his sixth season as a head coach and third year at Alcorn State coming off the school’s first-ever conference title and regional berth, where the Braves lost to Rice and California. Alcorn returns Jr. 1B Eduardo Gonzalez (.344/.416/.518), the preseason pick by coaches to be league player of the year, as well as Srs. Steve Easter (8-6, 4.82, 112 IP/24 BB) and Troy Williams (7-6, 5.01, 97 IP/37 BB), two strike-throwers who combined to throw more than 40 percent of the Braves’ innings a year ago.

• Southern coach Roger Cador succeeds Watkins as the SWAC’s longest-serving head coach. In his 28th season he needs four more wins to reach 800, had three players drafted and returns live-armed So. RHP Jose De Leon (5-2, 5.75, 56 IP/72 SO) and steady third-year starter Jr. RHP Jesse Holiday (11-2, 5.01 career). Sr. RF/RHP Wilmy Marrero (.351/.401/.590, 9 HR) adds closing duties after solely hitting last spring; Cador says he’s hit 90 mph but is still learning to pitch. The lineup includes Sr. 3B Cameron McGriff (.250/.326/.389), son of Terry and nephew of Fred; and OF Vince Coleman Jr. (.275 in a part-time role last season).