RENO - Nevada Wolf Pack baseball coach Gary Powers has no problem with Fresno State being named the team to beat in the Western Athletic Conference.
"Fresno is loaded," Powers said. "They have everybody back."
The Bulldogs, who won the WAC regular season title last year at 38-25 overall and 16-8 in league play, were picked to win the conference this year in a recent vote by the league's seven head coaches. The Wolf Pack, which received one first place vote (coaches couldn't vote for their own team), was picked to finish third behind Fresno and Hawaii and ahead of, in order, San Jose State, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech and Sacramento State.
"We should be picked somewhere in the middle," said Powers, whose Wolf Pack tied for second in the WAC at 14-9-1 (36-22-1 overall) with New Mexico State last year. "Our conference is going to be loaded with experience this year."
Fresno State also dominated the pre-season All-WAC team, also voted on by the coaches. The Bulldogs placed seven players on the 16-player team. Hawaii junior second baseman Kolten Wong was named the pre-season Player of the Year and San Jose State junior Blake McFarland was named the pre-season Pitcher of the Year.
The Wolf Pack had two players honored on the pre-season All-WAC Team: utility player Brock Stassi and outfielder Brian Barnett.
Stassi, the 2010 WAC Pitcher of the Year, was 7-4 on the mound with a 3.43 earned run average in 2010 and also hit .364 with nine homers and 42 RBI. Barnett led the Pack with 18 homers and 71 RBI and also hit .348.
Among the Wolf Pack players not honored were outfielder Nick Melino and starting pitcher Tom Jameson.
Melino led the WAC in hitting last year at .388 (tied with New Mexico State's Leo Aguirre) and also hit seven homers with 35 RBI. Jameson, who allowed just one hit in eight innings in a 3-1 victory over Louisiana Tech in the WAC Tournament, was 6-1 with a 3.84 ERA a year ago.
Fresno's Jordan Ribera, last year's WAC Player of the Year after hitting 27 homers and driving in 69 runs and hitting .343, was named at first base. Wong hit .365 last year with seven homers and 40 RBI and is the pre-season All-WAC second baseman.
At shortstop is Fresno's Garrett Weber (.387, 38 RBI last year) and at third is Fresno's Danny Muno (.329, seven homers, 33 RBI). Fresno State's Trent Garrison was named at catcher after hitting .339 with five homers, 46 RBI in 2010.
Joining Barnett in the outfield are Fresno's Brennan Gowens (.359, four homers, 35 RBI) and Dusty Robinson (.308, 16, 60) and New Mexico State's Chace Perkins. Perkins, a North Valleys High graduate, was one of the WAC's top hitters a year ago (.363, 17 homers, 70 RBI).
Hawaii's Jeff Van Doornum was named at designated hitter after hitting .342 with 12 homers and 36 RBI.
McFarland (7-4, 3.62) was joined in the starting rotation by Fresno's Greg Gonzalez (8-2, 6.54) and Hawaii's Matt Sisto (5-5, 5.57). The relievers are San Jose State's Zack Jones, last year's WAC Freshman of the Year (5-1, 3.73 ERA and five saves in 20 games), and Hawaii's Lenny Linsky (3-0, 1.59, 12 saves in 27 games).
The Wolf Pack will open its season Feb. 18 at UC Irvine. The home opener at Peccole Park is March 1 against San Francisco State.