RICHARDSON, Texas — If Eastern New Mexico University's baseball and softball teams are going to make their marks in the Lone Star Conference this spring, they'll have to do it from the bottom up.
ENMU's squads were both picked for last place — actually, by a fairly wide margin — in the league's preseason polls released this week by the conference office.
Defending regular-season champion Incarnate Word was selected to repeat in baseball, earning 13 of 22 first-place votes and finishing with 157 points to 126 for Tarleton State. Every school in the eight-team league received at least one first-place vote except ENMU (16-28, 11-22 in 2011), which finished 53 points behind seventh-place Texas A&M-Kingsville in the poll with 25 points.
Chris Terry was hired last summer to replace Phil Clabaugh, who revived the program in 1992 and spent 20 seasons at the ENMU helm. Claubaugh won 455 games during his time at ENMU.
The Greyhounds open the 2012 season in a two-day tournament at Texas-Permian Basin scheduled for Feb. 10-11.
The team's home opener is Feb. 28 in a 2 p.m. clash against New Mexico Highlands.
Senior infielder Jess Cooper of West Texas A&M was chosen the conference's preseason player of the year, while UIW senior left-hander Kirk Jewasko was the preseason pitcher of the year.
Defending co-champion Angelo State was the choice in softball with 232 points to 214 for the other defending co-champion, Incarnate Word.
It was a tight race with the top four teams separated by just 26 points. In fact, No. 4 Midwestern State (nine) had more first-place votes than ASU (eight).
ENMU (13-41, 3-18), under third-year coach Lauren Sigwing, was tabbed for 10th in the 10-team league with 32 points. Ninth-place Kingsville had 68 points.
The Zias begin their season on Thursday in a three-day tournament in San Antonio, hosted by St. Mary's. Their home opener is against Texas-Permian Basin in a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Feb. 29.
Sophomore shortstop Bailey Vrazel of Texas Woman's was chosen the preseason player of the year, while junior right-hander Briana Sanchez of UIW was the preseason pitcher of the year.
Team (1st-pl. votes) Pts
1. Incarnate Word (13) 157
2. Tarleton State (1) 126
3. Cameron (2) 105
4. Angelo State (2) 91
tie. Abilene Christian (1) 91
6. West Texas A&M (1) 83
7. Texas A&M-Kingsville (1) 78
8. Eastern New Mexico 25
Preseason player of the year: Jess Cooper, Sr., IF, West Texas A&M.
Preseason pitcher of the year: Kirk Jewasko, Sr., RH, Incarnate Word.
Team (1st-pl. votes) Pts
1. Angelo State (8) 232
2. Incarnate Word (2) 214
3. West Texas A&M (7) 212
4. Midwestern State (9) 206
5. Texas Woman's 142
6. Abilene Christian 135
7. Tarleton State 102
8. Cameron 87
9. Texas A&M-Kingsville 68
10. Eastern New Mexico 32
Preseason player of the year: Bailey Vrazel, So., SS, Texas Woman's.
Preseason pitcher of the year: Briana Sanchez, Jr., RH, Incarnate Word.