DURANT, Okla. — Southeastern Oklahoma State baseball opens the Zach Crabtree era as an underdog after being picked to finish seventh in the Great American Conference preseason poll for the 2018 season.
The Savage Storm are aiming to rebound from a 16-29-1 record last year that included a 13-18 GAC record and a sixth-place finish in the conference standings.
They will head into the season with five returning position starters from a season ago, and despite losing their top hitter, brings back the next four from last year.
Brett Akins leads that group and had a .293 average with seven doubles, three homers and 27 RBI while Travis Spinney was next in line with a .283 average, eight doubles, a pair of triples, 15 RBI, 29 runs scored and 13 stolen bases.
Luke Thomas, Jett Swigart, and Cade Clay also return after starting 30 or more games.
Southeastern brings back three pitchers who recorded a start a season ago with Brandon Wolski leading the returning staff after posting a 3-7 record with three saves and a 4.14 ERA in 58.2 innings pitched over two starts and 24 total appearances. He struck out 54.
Hayden Grimes returns after posting the most starts a year ago and finished with a 4-5 record with a 4.55 ERA.
The Storm will reload with one of its largest class of newcomers in recent memory as more than 20 players join the roster.
Southern Arkansas is the preseason favorite with 119 points in the poll and nine of the 12 first-place votes, while Oklahoma Baptist is second with 109 and the remaining three first-place tallies.
Arkansas Tech is third with 102 points, followed by Arkansas-Monticello. Henderson State and Southwestern Oklahoma State are fifth and sixth, respectively, ahead of SE and its 57 points, just one point ahead of Harding in eighth place.
Ouachita Baptist checks in ninth, with Northwestern Oklahoma State, East Central and Southern Nazarene rounding out the poll.
Southeastern opens the season Feb. 1-4 when it travels to Grand Prairie for the Airhog Division II Tournament.