DURHAM, N.C. – UCLA has been selected No. 2 in Baseball America’s preseason top-25 poll, the national publication announced on Thursday. The Bruins finished the 2010 season as the runner-up to national champion South Carolina at the College World Series.
Florida has been ranked No. 1 in Baseball America’s preseason poll. Texas Christian, Vanderbilt and Florida are tabbed third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Texas, South Carolina, Cal State Fullerton, Connecticut and Clemson round out the preseason top 10 selections, in order.
UCLA defeated Florida once and Texas Christian twice at the 2010 College World Series to advance to the best-of-three championship round.
UCLA is one of six Pac-10 programs ranked in Baseball America’s preseason top-25 poll (No. 11 Arizona State, No. 13 Stanford, No. 14 Oregon, No. 17 California and No. 19 Arizona). Last season, a record eight Pac-10 programs advanced to NCAA Regionals.
The Bruins return 20 letterwinners from a 2010 squad that went 51-17, posting the school record for single-season victories and advancing to the finals of the College World Series for the first time in program history. UCLA’s pitching staff will be led by juniors Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole, both who have been mainstays in the program’s weekend rotation the past two seasons.
In addition, six position players who started at least 40 ballgames in 2010 figure to play a major impact again this spring – sophomore outfielders Beau Amaral and Cody Keefer, junior infielders Dean Espy and Tyler Rahmatulla, sophomore infielder Cody Regis and junior catcher Steve Rodriguez. Other key returners include senior outfielder Chris Giovinazzo and sophomore outfielder Jeff Gelalich.
Last season, UCLA opened the year ranked in three of the five major college baseball polls (No. 20 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 23 by Baseball America and No. 27 by the NCBWA; unranked by Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com and ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll). UCLA finished 2010 ranked No. 2 by all five polls.
The Bruins were last ranked as high as No. 2 in the preseason by Baseball America was in 2008. That year, UCLA opened the season as Baseball America’s preseason No. 1 team and advanced to the NCAA Regional Final at Cal State Fullerton.
UCLA opens this season with a three-game series against San Francisco on Friday, Feb. 18. Game time at Jackie Robinson Stadium is 6 p.m.
Baseball America’s 2011 Preseason Poll
3. Texas Christian
7. South Carolina
8. Cal State Fullerton
11. Arizona State
12. Florida State
20. College of Charleston
21. Texas A&M
22. Louisiana State
23. St. John’s