DALLAS, Texas -- Cal State Fullerton has been selected No. 1 nationally in the 17th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Division I Preseason Poll. It's the second NCBWA preseason No. 1 ranking for the Titans, along with the 2005 season. Cal State Fullerton is among 12 different schools to hold down the initial post since the NCBWA Division I polls began in 1998.Head Coach Rick Vanderhook guided the Titans to a final mark of 51-10 and the 2013 Big West Conference championship (the school's 27th in all conferences since 1975). Fullerton was ranked as high as second in last season's NCBWA surveys and closed the year in 10th place nationally. Cal State Fullerton is paced by a pair of preseason All-American starting pitchers in Thomas Eshelman, a sophomore who was 12-3 with a 1.48 ERA, 17 starts, 115 2/3 innings pitched, and 83 strikeouts as a freshman; and sophomore Justin Garza who was 12-0 with a 2.03 ERA, 17 starts, 115 innings of work, and 95 strikeouts as a consensus Freshman All-America hurler (along with Eshelman) in 2013.
Defending NCAA champion UCLA (a first-time baseball titlist in 2013) is ranked ninth initially after entering the 2013 season No. 5 in the NCBWA. Mississippi State, which advanced to the CWS final round for the first time in school history, is No. 4 this year after starting 2013 at No. 16. No. 2 Virginia, No. 3 Oregon State, MSU, and No. 5 Florida State round out the 2014 preseason top five.
The poll voters come from 44 college baseball writers and related media persons from throughout the nation. After a preseason top 35 listing, the remainder of the polls will feature a national top 30 beginning with the Feb. 17 NCBWA DI survey.
Previous No. 1 entries on the preseason NCBWA rankings have been LSU in the 1998, 2001 and 2009 polls, Southern California (1999), Miami (Fla.) (2000), Stanford (2002), Texas (2003, 06, 10), Rice (2004, 07), Cal State Fullerton (2005), Arizona State (2008), North Carolina (2009), TCU (2011), Florida (2012), and Arkansas (2013).
Last season, five different teams were rated No, 1 in the poll – Arkansas (preseason), North Carolina (next 10 surveys), Vanderbilt (April 29-May 20), LSU (May 27-June 4), and UCLA (final).
The NCBWA continues its tradition of NCAA Division I polls with its 2014 preseason predictions and weekly surveys. Weekly polls will resume from Feb. 17-June 26 with the finale following the 68th annual 2014 NCAA World Series in Omaha, Neb., at TD Ameritrade Park.
This current poll has representation by nine different conferences among the baseball-playing schools in the 2014 NCAA Division I ranks. The polls of 2012 had a NCBWA-poll record 22 different DI conferences and independents rated at least one week while the 2013 surveys had 12 separate circuits among the ranked.