Pac-12 Baseball kicks off 2017 season Thursday

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IN THE RANKINGS: With the season beginning on Thursday, the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches Preseason Poll has three Pac-12 teams ranked. Oregon State leads the way at No. 7, followed by Arizona at No. 15, and Stanford is No. 21.

The NCBWA has five Pac-12 teams in the preseason top-35 with Oregon State coming in at No. 7, Arizona at No. 16, Stanford at No. 23, WASHINGTON at No. 26, and ARIZONA STATE at No. 35.

Baseball America has four Pac-12 teams in its preseason top-25 with Oregon State coming in at No. 9, Washington at No. 12, Arizona at No. 22, and Stanford at No. 23.

Collegiate Baseball includes five Pac-12 teams in the top-40 preseason rankings: Oregon State is No. 5, Arizona is No. 7, Washington is No. 21, Stanford is No. 24, and Arizona State is No. 25.

The Pac-12 coaches felt similarly in the preseason coaches poll voting Oregon State the preseason favorite, followed by Stanford, Arizona, and Washington to round out the top four.

STAR POWER: The Pac-12 had eight different student-athletes from four schools garner preseason All-America honors. Oregon State had two student-athletes featured on two different preseason All-America lists with Nick Madrigal on both Baseball America and NCBWA’s teams and Bryce Fehmel on both NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball’s teams.

GOLDEN SPIKES: The USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List features 50 amateurs, seven of which are student-athletes from four different Pac-12 teams. With seven, the Pac-12 has the third-most representatives among all conferences. Stanford leads the way for most representatives by one tea, with three Cardinal student-athletes featured, tying Florida and TCU. Now in its 39th year recognizing the top amateur baseball player in the country, seven former Pac-12 baseball players have won the award, most recently pitcher Trevor Bauer of UCLA in 2011. 

STOPPER OF THE YEAR: The Pac-12 has nine student-athletes from nine different universities on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Preseason Watch List, the most among all conferences. The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association will be presenting the Stopper of the Year Award to the top relief pitcher in Division I baseball for the 13th straight year in 2017. 

DRAFT: Every Pac-12 school had at least one student-athlete drafted in the 2016 MLB Draft: Arizona (6), Arizona State (5), California (7), Oregon (5), Oregon State (5), Stanford (4), UCLA (12), Utah (1), Washington (3) and Washington State (3). ASU leads all NCAA schools with 414 total MLB draft picks, and at least one Sun Devil has been drafted every year since the draft’s inception in 1965.

FAMILIAR FACES IN THE DUGOUT: After welcoming three new coaches last season, all 11 coaches return for the 2017 season. Second year Arizona head coach Jay Johnson looks to match or beat his performance last season. The Wildcats made it all the way to Game 3 of the NCAA College World Series before falling to Coastal Carolina. Three other Pac-12 teams also made it to the postseason- Arizona State, Utah, and Washington.

One of the premier coaches in college baseball history and a man whose name is synonymous with the Stanford baseball program, head coach Mark Marquess enters his 41st and final season with the Stanford Cardinal and as a Pac-12 coach. Under his tutelage, Stanford has captured two NCAA titles, advanced to the CWS 14 times, appeared in the NCAA Regionals 29 and won at least a share of nine Pac-12 titles. A member of the American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, Marquess opens the 2017 season as the second-winningest active coach in the nation with a career record of 1,585-862-7 (.647). Coach Marquess and the Cardinal look to end a legendary union with a bang.

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