Jan. 19, 2005

ARLINGTON, Texas - The University of Texas at Arlington baseball team was picked to finish third in the Southland Conference in two separate polls conducted by the league's head coaches and sports information directors, the league announce Wednesday. Defending champion Lamar and Northwestern State were picked to win according to the head coaches, while LU narrowly beat out NSU for the top spot according to the SIDs.

LU and NSU each received 74 points in the coaches poll with the Cardinals receiving five first-place votes and the Demons three. The Mavericks are not far behind with 64 points and one first-place vote. Texas State was picked to finish fourth with 60 points and Louisiana-Monroe fifth with 52 points and the final first-place vote. Texas-San Antonio (34 points), McNeese State (32), Sam Houston State (31), Southeastern Louisiana (18) and Nicholls State (11) round out the preseason polls.

According to the league's SIDs, LU received six first-place votes and 95 points to get the nod just ahead of NSU's 92 three first-place votes and 92 points. UTA is third with 73 points and ULM is fourth with one first-place vote and 70 points. TXST rounds out the top five with 65 points. MSU and UTSA are tied for the sixth spot with 43 points, followed by SHSU (33), SLU (19) and NICH (17).

Junior right-hander Michael Gardner was selected to the preseason all-SLC first team, while sophomore Brett Lewis was selected to the second team.

Gardner (Arlington, Texas) earned first team all-SLC, Rawlings/ABCA first team all-South Central Region and honorable mention All-American honors from after going 11-3 with a 2.49 ERA in 2004. He was tied for the team lead with 15 starts and led the team with 105 innings pitched and 77 strikeouts. This is the third preseason award for Gardner as he is a preseason third-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and one of 58 players on the Brooks Wallace Watch List for the best player in college baseball.

Lewis (Rockwall, Texas) finished his freshman season with a .281 average, 10 doubles and 28 RBIs. He enters the season on a 12-game hitting streak. Lewis started 51 games behind the plate and threw out 20 of 60 potential base stealers.

The Mavericks open the season on Feb. 4 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at the Texas-Pan American Tournament in Edinburg.




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