SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The coaches of the Big West have tabbed UC Santa Barbara as the No. 2 team in the conference for the upcoming season, it was revealed in Thursday's 2017 Big West Preseason Coaches Poll.
The Gauchos finished only behind Cal State Fullerton, who had 76 points in the poll. UCSB tied Long Beach State with 65 points. This is the highest UCSB has ever been picked in the preseason poll during the Andrew Checketts era.
The Gauchos are coming off the most historic season in school history, making it to the College World Series for the first time ever and knocking off the No. 2 and No. 3 national seeds during their extraordinary postseason run. UCSB checked off a litany of program firsts en route to Omaha, winning its first-ever Regional, first Super Regional, and setting a new school record with 43 wins against Division I opponents.
The blue-and-gold will be led in 2017 by junior southpaw Kyle Nelson and junior shortstop Clay Fisher, who each earned Preseason All-America honors from various publications. Other key returners include first baseman Austin Bush, catchers Dempsey Grover and Sam Cohen, third baseman JJ Muno, and weekend starters Noah Davis and Joe Record.
That strong stable of returners will be augmented by an incoming recruiting class that was ranked No. 9 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball, the highest in program history.
UCSB has been ranked in almost every national preseason poll, including a No. 18 selection from Collegiate Baseball. The Gauchos also check in at No. 19 (Baseball America), No. 21 (NCBWA), No. 23 (USA Today), and No. 25 (D1Baseball).
The Big West Coaches Poll was rounded out by Cal Poly (55 points) at No. 4, followed by UC Irvine (48), CSUN (33), UC Riverside (27), Hawai'i (23), and UC Davis (13).
To view the entire Big West Preseason Coaches Poll, click here.
UCSB will look to build on its run to Omaha as the new season begins with a three-game set against Loyola Marymount at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on Feb. 17. Season tickets for UCSB baseball are now available and can be purchased by calling 805-893-UCSB or clicking here.