PIKEVILLE, Ky. – After finishing ninth in the Mid-South Conference last season, the University of Pikeville baseball team was picked to finish 10th in the MSC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, released by conference officials on Monday.
UPIKE finished 18-26-1 overall last season, winning the most games since the 2005 season. The Bears’ improvement comes after winning just three games in 2010, nine in 2011 and 10 in 2012.
Infielder Erik Manning returns for the Bears this season after finishing second in the NAIA last year in double per game (.489) and hitting .329 with 22 doubles, a triple and 33 RBIs. Last season’s third leading hitter Bryan Bradley also returns after hitting .312 with 16 RBIs.
Leading pitchers Corey Gilligan and Joey Valentino are back from 2013 after posting 3-7 and 3-4 record, respectively.
The Bears received 16 points in the poll, while Cumberland (Tenn.) was picked as the favorite with 80 points and eight first-place votes. Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) is second in the poll with 69 points and a first-place nod and Georgetown (Ky.) rounded out the top three with 67 points.
Campbellsville (Ky.) was chosen fourth in the poll with 59 points, while also earning the last first-place vote.
UPIKE is scheduled to open the 2014 season on Feb. 1 at St. Andrews in Laurinburg, N.C. The home opener is on Feb. 18 against Asbury (Ky.) at Johnnie Lemaster Field.