IRVINE, Calif. — Cal State Fullerton has been selected to claim the 2018 Big West Conference Baseball Championship, according to the nine conference coaches that voted on the Big West baseball preseason poll. The Titans earned six first-place votes en route to a total of 73 points. The Titans have claimed the conference crown two of the last three seasons and six of the last eight years.
The Titans, led by seventh-year head coach Rick Vanderhook, enter the 2018 season ranked in every national poll, with their highest ranking of 11th being handed out by both Baseball America and USA Today Coaches Top 25 polls. Cal State Fullerton is the second-highest west coast team in the polls only behind Oregon State, who is ranked as high as No. 2. Fullerton is the lone Big West team to be placed in the poll.
A season ago, Cal State Fullerton, who finished third in league with a 15-9 mark, made an impressive run in the postseason and concluded the year making its 18th trip to the College World Series and its second in the last three seasons.
The Titans return a good mix of veterans from that Omaha-bound team, along with talented newcomers, who should help the Titans contend for its 22nd Big West Conference title and 30th conference championship overall. Cal State Fullerton welcomes back two All-Big West performers from a year ago in sophomore Sahid Valenzuela and junior Brett Conine. Valenzuela was second on the team with a .314 batting average and 70 hits while Conine made 31 appearances on the mound and earned a league-leading 15 saves. The Titan closer has been recognized in several 2018 preseason All-America lists.
Long Beach State was picked to finish second in the conference receiving 65 total votes and two first place votes. Cal Poly tallied 64 total votes and was picked to finish third, while UC Santa Barbara was picked fourth and accumulated 49 total points. CSUN was picked to finish fifth and received 48 total points.
UC Irvine (43), UC Riverside (26) and UC Davis (10) rounded out the rest of the group, finishing six, seventh and ninth in the poll respectively.
2018 Coaches Poll Results
1. Cal State Fullerton - 73 (6)
2. Long Beach State - 65 (2)
3. Cal Poly - 64
4. UC Santa Barbara - 49
5. CSUN - 48
6. UC Irvine- 43 (1)
7. Hawai'i - 27
8. UC Riverside - 26
9. UC Davis – 10
( ) First-place vote
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