College Baseball Newspaper has included Western Nevada College in its 2014 National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Preseason Poll.
The Wildcats are ranked 16th, marking the seventh straight season that coach D.J. Whittemore’s team has been nationally ranked in the preseason. It ties the Wildcats with Iowa Western for the longest-running streak for inclusion in the preseason top-20 national rankings.
“That is quite an honor and a real tribute to all our alumni for raising the bar each and every season and continually leaving the program better than they found it,” Whittemore said.
Central Alabama, last year’s national champion, tops the preseason poll. Palm Beach State (Fla.) is next followed by Cochise (Ariz.), which eliminated WNC in the Western District championship game last spring.
“The funny thing about polls is we usually start the season ranked and finish the season ranked but rarely get ranked during the season,” Whittemore said. “Playing three-quarters of our games on the road and preparing for a season that is played predominantly during the winter means we always peak late.”
WNC finished last season one victory shy of qualifying for the NJCAA World Series for the fourth time. The Wildcats won the Region 18 title and finished with a 44-20 record.
Whittemore welcomes back six returning position players including Conor Harber, who set program records with a .411 batting average and 11 triples last season, and will play for the Oregon Ducks in 2015.
The Wildcats also return pitcher Christian Stolo, who has signed a letter of intent with the University of Nevada, Reno. The left-handed Stolo was 8-3 with a 1.98 earned run average as a freshman.
Anne Hansen of Western Nevada College contributed to this report.