The University of Arkansas at Monticello baseball team has been picked second overall in the 2017 Great American Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, as released by the conference on Thursday.
Arkansas-Monticello concluded the 2016 season with a 40-16 record and a 21-9 finish in the GAC and a second place spot in the GAC championship tournament. UAM went on to defeat Harding, Southeastern Oklahoma State, Arkansas Tech, and finally Henderson State to claim the 2016 GAC tournament championship and earned a number four seed in the NCAA Division II Central Regional Tournament.
The Weevils continued its hot streak in the post-season taking down Missouri Western State in the opening game but fell to Minnesota State in the following match-up. UAM then won three straight regional games, defeating Southwestern Oklahoma State, Emporia State, and Minnesota State to earn a spot in the central regional final against Central Missouri, but was knocked out by the Mules by a final score of 7-4.
UAM returns 15 total letter-winners and six starters from last year’s team, including 2016 NCBWA All-American Honorable Mention starting pitcher Braden Chambers, 2016 NCBWA All-Region Honorable Mention relief pitcher Dawson Moser, and First-Team All-GAC infielder Nick Piraino. Other starters returning in 2017 are infielder Guy Halbert, outfielder Brian Ray, and starting pitcher Grant Black.
Seventh-year head coach and newly appointed interim athletic director John Harvey (160-125 at UAM, 314-273 overall in 13 years) sees 32 newcomers for the 2017 season in hopes for another deep post-season run. Arkansas-Monticello will also start the 2017 season ranked No. 31 as the preseason American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll was announced.
The Weevils open the 2017 season at home against non-conference opponent Central Oklahoma February 4-5 at Weevils Field. UAM opens up GAC play against Southeastern Oklahoma State at home February 24-25.