BRENTWOOD - Austin Peay State University's baseball team will enter the 2012 campaign as the pick to win the Ohio Valley Conference's regular-season title, as selected in the league's preseason poll of coaches and sports information directors.
In addition, junior second baseman Jordan Hankins was selected as Preseason Co-Player of the Year. He was joined on the Preseason All-OVC team by senior shortstop Reed Harper and senior outfielder Cody Hudson.
The Governors, the 2011 and 2012 OVC regular-season and tournament champions, were picked first in the preseason poll, receiving 14 of a possible 20 first-place votes (coaches and SIDs could not vote for their own team) and tallying 193 points. League newcomer Belmont, the 2012 Atlantic Sun Conference champion, was picked to finish second, receiving the remaining 8 first-place votes and scoring 182 points.
The league's top six were rounded out by Jacksonville State (156 points), Eastern Kentucky (139), Eastern Illinois (133) and Tennessee Tech (107). Rounding out the now 11-team list were SIUE (91), Southeast Missouri (73), Morehead State (70), Murray State (45) and UT Martin (21).
Hankins, of Wentzville, Mo., was named the league's Preseason Co-Player of the Year along with Tennessee Tech junior first baseman Zach Stephens. Hankins was a Preseason All-America selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Collegiate Baseball newspaper. He returns as the team's top hitter after posting a .336 batting average, 16 doubles, 10 home runs and 66 RBI last season en route to first-team All-OVC recognition. In the postseason, Hankins batted .361 with two home runs and nine RBI and was a OVC all-tournament pick and was named to the NCAA Tournament's Eugene All-Region Team.
Harper, of Clarksville, was a preseason All-OVC pick after batting .327 last season with 17 doubles, three home runs and 36 RBI. He was named to the OVC All-Tournament team after batting .300 with four walks (.417 on-base percentage) and going errorless in 34 defensive chances.
Hudson, of Germantown, is a preseason All-OVC selection after earning second-team All-OVC honors last season. He batted .300 last season with 12 doubles, six home runs and 36 RBI. His 21 stolen bases led the league and were the 75th best total among Division I players last season.
Hankins, Harper and Hudson are among 15 returning letterwinners from last season's team. Among the Govs starters returning from last season will be senior outfielder Rolando Gautier (.281/4 HR/35 RBI) as well as the junior catching platoon of P.J. Torres (.254/4/19) and Matt Wollenzin (.209/3/17).
On the mound, senior starter Casey Delgado returns after an impressive postseason that saw him post a shutout of Cal State Fullerton in the NCAA Tournament's Eugene Regional. That was a part of 14 consecutive scoreless innings tossed as he finished the campaign with a 9-4 record and 5.59 ERA. Also returning senior Ryan Quick (5-2, 4.63 ERA), junior Kacy Kemmer (2-1, 3.34 ERA) and senior closer Tyler Rogers (4-4, 12 saves, 2.26 ERA).
Head coach Gary McClure returns for his 26th season and brings 752 career wins into the campaign - 25 wins shy of becoming the OVC's all-time wins leader. He also will enter the season as a member of the Austin Peay Athletics Hall of Fame, an honor he will receive during induction ceremonies, Saturday.
The Governors 2013 campaign begins in one week when they host Big Ten conference member Iowa in a 3 p.m., Friday first pitch. Austin Peay will play 15 of its first 18 games at Raymond C. Hand Park - all before opening Ohio Valley Conference play - and the now 30 game race to the 2013 regular-season title - at Eastern Illinois, March 15.