Baseball Cracks 2004 Polls With No. 7 Preseason Ranking From Collegiate Baseball.

Dec. 19, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. (www.TheSunDevils.com) -- The Arizona State Sun Devils will open the 2004 season as the No. 7 ranked team in the annual Collegiate Baseball Fabulous 40 preseason NCAA Division I baseball poll. Shortstop Dustin Pedroia and outfielder Jeff Larish were also named first-team preseason All-Americans by the publication.

The Sun Devils are coming off a record-breaking 54-14 season in 2003 and finished ranked as high as No. 7 in the polls (No. 10 by Collegiate Baseball). The Devils lost 16 letterwinners from last year's squad and will have to replace seven of the top nine pitchers. ASU opened last year ranked as high No. 8 (Baseball America) in the country and has been ranked in 79 consecutive national polls dating back to the start of the 2000 season. The No. 7 preseason ranking is the highest since the 2001 and 1998 squads began the season No. 6 in the country.

The Devils schedule has already been praised as one of the toughest in the nation with 30 games against teams that participated in the 2003 NCAA Tournament. In addition, ASU is scheduled to play 25 games teams that are listed among Collegiate Baseball's preseason top 40. The Devils open the season with a three-game series against No. 24 Florida State (Feb. 6-8) and then face No. 1 and defending national champion Rice on Feb. 22 in Houston. No. 13 Tulane (Mar. 12-14), No. 33 Oklahoma State (Mar. 16-17), No. 23 Washington (Mar. 26-28), No. 22 Arizona (Feb. 24, Apr. 12) and No. 16 USC (Apr. 2-4) all visit Packard Stadium. The Devils will also travel to face ranked opponents at No. 6 Stanford (May 28-30), No. 22 Arizona (May 21-23) and No. 9 Wichita State (Apr. 27-28).

Pedroia (Woodland, Calif.) earned his second preseason honor after also picking up first-team honors from the NCBWA. The junior shortstop was the 2003 Pac-10 Co-Player of the Year after hitting .404 (120-for-297) with a Pac-10 and ASU single-season record 34 doubles. He was only the 11th Sun Devil to record over 100 hits and hit .400 in the same season. He enters his junior campaign as a .379 hitter and the Collegiate Baseball National Defensive Player of the Year has made only 12 errors in 542 chances during his career (.978 FLD%).



Junior Jeff Larish joined Pedroia as a first-team preseason All-American.


Larish (Tempe, Ariz.) also picked up first-team preseason honors after being a second-team selection by the NCBWA. The two-year starter will make the transition from first base to the outfield for 2004 and is regarded as one of the top prospects for the MLB June Amateur Draft. Larish hit .372 (87-for-234) as a sophomore while leading the team with 18 home runs and 95 RBI. He also led the nation with 78 walks and became only the second Sun Devil to record at least 70 walks and 70 RBI in a single season (Alvin Davis). Larish also teamed with Pedroia to help the USA Baseball National Team to a silver medal in the Pan Am Games. He led the team with 23 RBI and eight home runs.

The Sun Devils, led by 10th year head coach Pat Murphy, return to campus after Christmas break and are scheduled to begin preparations for the 2004 season on Jan. 5 at Packard Stadium. ASU will hold the annual alumni game on Jan. 17 (1 p.m.) and open the season against the No. 24 Seminoles on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.



NCAA Div. I Pre-Season Poll (As of Dec. 19, 2003)


www.baseballnews.com

Rank School ('03 Final Record)

Points

Final '03 Rank

1. Rice (58-12)

495

1

Miami, Fla. (45-17-1)

495

5

3. Louisiana St. (45-22-1)

491

7

4. Georgia Tech. (44-18)

489

14

5. Texas (50-20)

486

4

6. Stanford (51-18)

484

2

7. Arizona St. (54-14)

481

10

8. Cal. St. Fullerton (50-16)

477

3

9. Wichita St. (49-27)

475

NR

10. Notre Dame (45-18)

470

28

11. Baylor (45-23)

468

13

12. Long Beach St. (41-20)

464

11

13. Tulane (44-19)

462

NR

14. South Carolina (45-22)

458

6

15. Florida (37-21-1)

457

NR

16. Southern California (28-28)

456

NR

17. Clemson (39-22)

450

NR

18. Auburn (42-21)

449

20

19. Florida Atlantic (47-16)

446

23

20. Nebraska (47-18)

445

15

21. North Carolina (42-23)

443

19

22. Arizona (35-23)

441

NR

23. Washington (42-18)

438

27

24. Florida St. (54-13-1)

437

9

25. Minnesota (40-22)

432

NR

26. Nevada-Las Vegas (47-17)

430

26

27. Mississippi (35-27)

424

NR

28. Winthrop (35-22)

416

NR

29. North Carolina St. (45-18)

411

12

30. Mississippi St. (42-20-1)

408

24

31. Ohio St. (44-21)

406

18

32. Texas A&M (45-19)

403

17

33. Oklahoma St. (34-24)

398

NR

34. U.C. Riverside (41-17)

395

30

35. Alabama (28-24)

392

NR

36. Va. Commonwealth (46-13)

390

NR

37. Southern Miss. (47-16)

386

25

38. Tennessee (31-24)

380

NR

39. San Diego (32-30)

378

NR

40. Stetson (41-24)

375

NR


--Sun Devil Baseball--
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