Redbird Baseball Picked Third in Preseason MVC Poll
January 31, 2013
ST. LOUIS - The Illinois State baseball team was selected to finish third in the Missouri Valley Conference, according to the MVC Preseason Baseball Coaches' Poll released by the Valley offices Wednesday. Additionally, seniors Eric Aguilera, Brett Kay and Zac Johnson were dubbed first team all-conference preseason selections.
"There is no question that the league will be extremely strong again this year," fourth-year head coach Mark Kingston said. "You have quality teams from top to bottom. I feel that the Missouri Valley Conference can be a three to four bid league for the NCAA tournament."
The Redbirds received 45 overall points, tied with Indiana State for third place. Missouri State was the preseason favorites with 60 points and Wichita State was tabbed second with 47 total points. Illinois State did receive one first-place vote. ISU returns 21 lettermen, including six starters and seven pitchers, from last season's 33-19 squad.
Aguilera, a 2012 All-MVC First-Team player, batted .330/.355/.483 for the Redbirds last season, including a league-best .407 batting average in Valley games. The Cary, Ill., native led ISU with seven home runs and added eight doubles and 36 RBI. He appeared in 52 games, making 49 starts.
Johnson also earned All-MVC First-Team accolades in 2012. The Bloomington, Ill., product hit .323/.396/.516 with six home runs and 43 RBI in 2012. He started and appeared in 50 games and was the team-leader with 15 doubles.
Kay, a four-year member of ISU baseball, hit .269/.329/.343 in 2012. The infielder tallied two home runs and 16 RBI, in addition to four doubles and 33 runs scored. He successfully stole 14-of-16 (88%) bases and posted a .985 fielding percentage.
"The honors received by our players are well deserved," Kingston added. "I think we have more than a chance to get postseason accolades."
The Redbirds open the 2013 season, Feb. 15, at Memphis. The 56-game 2013 schedule features seven teams that advanced to the 2012 NCAA tournament and includes a school-record 29 games at Duffy Bass Field, where ISU went 13-4 last season. The home-opener is slated for March 15 versus Bowling Green. All 56 games will include a live, free, audio broadcast on www.GoRedbirds.com and www.WJBC.com, with Ronan O'Shea handling the play-by-play.
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