The Western Nevada College Wildcats baseball team is ranked 16th in College Baseball Newspaperâ€™s 2014 National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Preseason Poll.
It marks the seventh straight season that Coach D.J. Whittemoreâ€™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.
â€œThat 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,â€ Whittemore said.
Central Alabama, last yearâ€™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.
â€œThe funny thing about polls is we usually start the season ranked and finish the season ranked but rarely get ranked during the season,â€ Whittemore said. â€œPlaying 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.â€
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.