The two-time defending Missouri Valley Tournament champion Creighton Bluejays are picked to finish seventh this year by conference coaches, in rankings released on Wednesday.
The 2013 Bluejay squad returns five position starters from last season, sophomore Jake Peter and senior Alex Staehely in the infield along with junior Mike Gerber and seniors Brad McKewon Brennan Murphy in the outfield. Historically strong on the mound, the Jays welcome senior Nick Musec back to the rotation and senior Mark Winkelman to anchor the bullpen.
“We are a very young team, but I expect we’ll be strong defensively up the middle, anchored by Staehely, Peter and Gerber,” said Creighton head coach Ed Servais.
Missouri State, which returns a dominating young pitching staff and a wealth of depth from last year's squad, has been tabbed as the league favorite in the annual coaches' preseason poll, receiving six of eight first-place votes.
The Bears tallied 60 points and were a sound favorite over second-place pick Wichita State (47 points). Illinois State and Indiana State both received 45 points to finish in the third position. Southern Illinois was selected in fifth place with 36 points, followed by Bradley (21 points) in the sixth slot. Creighton (18 points) and Evansville (16 points) round out the final two positions in the poll.
All eight Missouri Valley Conference baseball teams begin action the third week of February with tournament play and non-conference games while league battles starting March 22nd.
Illinois State will host the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Championship May 21st-25th.