SHAWNEE, Oklahoma - After being ranked ninth in the preseason Great American Coaches poll last season, the Bison went out, finished third and won the NCCAA national championship. The league's coaches took note.
Oklahoma Baptist is ranked No. 1 in the GAC preseason coaches' poll for 2017.
"After a year of going through the league and seeing how tough it is, it's an honor to be ranked No. 1," said OBU Coach Bobby Cox, who eclipsed the 1,250-win mark last season. "It is a surprise. We've got a solid core of players back, but there's a lot of baseball to be played."
OBU was 43-15 overall last season and 22-11 in the GAC, ending the year on a 15-game win streak.
The Bison received four of 12 first-place votes and four teams collected the top spot on the ballot, indicating a possible tight and exciting race this spring. OBU had 112 points in the poll.
GAC Tournament champion Arkansas-Monticello and regular season champion Southwestern Oklahoma State tied for second in the poll at 101 points with UAM getting three first-place votes and SWOSU two. Southern Arkansas had the remaining three first-place votes and finished with 96 points.
Henderson State leads the middle third of the GAC with 82 points, followed by Southeastern Oklahoma State (70), Arkansas Tech (65) and Harding (56). The lower third is led by East Central in ninth at 39, followed by Northwestern Oklahoma State (30), Ouachita Baptist (29) and Southern Nazarene (11).
The Bison open the season at home Feb. 3 against Baker University at 5 p.m.