COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Mesa State College baseball team is picked to win the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference regular season championship for the sixth year in a row, according to the RMAC’s eight head baseball coaches. The Mavericks are also expected to win the Mountain Division.
New Mexico Highlands is expected to finish second. The Cowboys have RMAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year Drew Vassil and five total players on the league’s preseason team.
Next is Colorado State-Pueblo. The Thunder Wolves are the top team in the Plains Division and the defending RMAC tournament champion.
Regis is fourth; the Rangers are led by RMAC Preseason Player of the Year, J.T. Putt. Nebraska-Kearney is fifth, then Metro State, Colorado School of Mines and Colorado Christian.
The RMAC Baseball Championships will be held May 5-8 at Nebraska-Kearney. The top six teams will qualify for the tournament.
Highlands received two first-place votes in the poll. The Cowboys finished the 2009 season with a 39-21 record. Five Cowboys named to the 2010 RMAC preseason all-conference team — David Bustillos, Christian Garcia, Jason Carr, Drew Vassil and Derek Grieve — lead a strong group of returners.
Carr, Garcia and Vassil are no strangers to RMAC acclaim, as all three were named to the All-RMAC First Team in 2009.
Carr finished the season tied for second place in home runs with 15.
Garcia was the league’s hits leader in 2009 with 97.
Vassil, a unanimous preseason All-RMAC selection, was a workhorse for the Cowboys and finished fourth in overall earned-run average with a 5.02 ERA in an RMAC-high 107.2 innings pitched. Vassil also finished the season with 74 batters struck out (25 looking). Vassil’s greatest accomplishment in 2009 was his league-leading nine wins.
Bustillos and Grieve are first timers on the All-RMAC awards list.
Bustillos finished the 2009 season with a .377 batting average, 80 hits, 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 32 runs batted in.
Grieve had a 4.89 ERA. He had 16 appearances, pitched 38.2 innings and struck out 24 batters.
“I am happy to see our program is receiving the respect and notoriety it deserves both at the national level and in the RMAC,” said NMHU head coach Steve Jones. “I am especially happy for the players that have been recognized. All of these young men are well deserving of these accolades. These honors give our team another reason to outwork our competition, because we now have to live up to these expectations. All of these preseason honors and awards don’t mean much if we don't play up to these standards. We have a very experienced and talented team that I feel will handle the responsibility of this very well.”
Metro favored in softball; Cowgirls in cellar
Metro State College is picked to win the RMAC regular season softball title, according to a poll of the 12 head coaches in the conference. The Roadrunners landed four players on the preseason all-conference team, including Preseason Pitcher of the Year Christie Robinson.
Mesa State is picked to win the West Division, and is second overall.
Regis is predicted to finish third. The Rangers are led by Preseason Player of the Year Alisa Heronema.
CSU-Pueblo is expected to finish fourth. Colorado School of Mines is picked fifth, followed by Adams State, Fort Lewis and Nebraska-Kearney. Western New Mexico and Colorado-Colorado Springs are tied for ninth. Chadron State and New Mexico Highlands round out the poll.
The RMAC softball championships will be played May 6-8. The top team with approximately three weeks remaining in the regular season and a bid accepted by the RMAC Championships Committee will host the tournament.
The top eight teams qualify for the double elimination tournament.