ST. LOUIS, Mo. - After winning both the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title and State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament a season ago, the Creighton baseball team has been picked to finish second in 2012 in the preseason poll, voted on by the league coaches and released Wednesday. The Bluejays received three first place votes, and finished with 53 total points, leaving them in second behind Missouri State, who picked up five first place votes and 60 points.
Wichita State is picked to finish third in the conference this season, picking up 47 total votes. Indiana State (37 votes) was picked fourth followed closely by Illinois State (34) and Southern Illinois (31). Bradley (15) and Evansville (11) round out the preseason poll, taking the seventh and eighth positions, respectively.
Creighton returns seven starters and a solid pitching staff from last year's team that finished 45-16, 15-6 in the MVC, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007. Head Coach Ed Servais became the winningest coach in Creighton history, surpassing both Jim Hendry and Jack Dahm last season. Servais was named the MVC Coach of the Year, highlighting Creighton's six All-Conference selections following the season (Jonas Dufek, Trever Adams and Jimmy Swift on the first team and Mike Gerber, Ty Blach and Kurt Spomer receiving second team honors.)
The Bluejays led the way with four Preseason All-Conference picks, as Anthony Bemboom, Mike Gerber, Ty Blach and Kurt Spomer all earned nods from the coaches as top players in the league this year. Bemboom finished last season with a .233 average and 23 RBI, and will look to anchor the battery as the starting catcher this season. Gerber is the lone starter returning in the outfield, but picked up a wealth of experience as the every-day starter in centerfield. Creighton will return 75% of it's infield from a season ago, as Nick Judkins (first base), Alex Staehely (middle infieid) and Chance Ross (third base) are all slated to retain their starting positions this season.
Blach will look to earn the Friday night starting role, after finishing 2011 with a 10-3 record and 100 strikeouts. Brandon Koenigstein and Nick Musec will throw their names into the starting rotation mix, as well as a handful of newcomers. Anchoring the bullpen will be Spomer, who tied for the league lead with 13 saves last season. Spomer, Reese McGraw and Mark Winkelman each finished with 35 appearances last year, all which led the league.
Creighton opens play on Friday, February 17 when they travel to Central Arkansas for a three game series. The Bluejays will open at home on March 13, when they host BYU at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.