There may not be many surprises to the MIAA baseball coaches poll that was released on Wednesday.

There may not be many surprises to the MIAA baseball coaches poll that was released on Wednesday.
Except for where the Pittsburg State Gorillas were picked.
The Gorillas, coming off a 22-28 season a year ago, were picked to finish ninth in the league as defending MIAA tournament champion Central Missouri was picked as the team to beat in 2009.
“I think it might be a little lower than I expected,” said Pitt State head coach Steve Bever. “I think we are better than that but, it is a great motivating tool.”
This is the first time the MIAA's baseball coaches have done a preseason ranking in recent memory.
The Mules collected nine of a possible 10 first-place votes (coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team) and finished with 99 of a possible 100 points. Central Missouri earned the regional championship and was eliminated in the semifinal round of the 2008 NCAA Division II Championship by eventual national champion Mount Olive (N.C.).
“You have to pick Central to win it just because of the history of the program,” Bever said.
The 2008 regular season MIAA champions from Emporia State picked up the other two available first-place votes — the Hornets finished second in the balloting with 92 points.
“They have had a good run over the last few years,” Bever said. “I would say that is an accurate pick.”
MIAA newcomer Nebraska-Omaha, like UCM and ESU a qualifier for the NCAA Division II regional in 2008, placed third in the poll with 78 points. Fort Hays State finished fourth on the list with 69 points.
Northwest Missouri State edged out Missouri Western for fifth place in the poll, the Bearcats scoring 60 points to the Griffons’ 58. Missouri Southern was seventh with 52 points.
The Washburn Ichabods were one point ahead of the Gorillas for eighth in the ranking, while Southwest Baptist and Truman round out the list.
PSU comes into the 2009 campaign returning MIAA second-team outfielder Taylor House, who led the Gorillas with a .407 batting average with 6 home runs and 28 RBI along with 70 hits.
In addition, Brian Dean, who will shift to third base from second this season, was an honorable mention selection last year after hitting .313 last year in 46 games with 23 RBI.
Senior right-handed pitcher Tim Brown also returns for his senior season after sporting a 4-4 record a year ago with a 6.68 earned run average.
“Nobody knows the players that I have just like I don’t know what other teams will have,” Bever said. “You really don’t know anything until you get on the playing field.”
The Gorillas open the 2009 season with a four-game set with Cameron University on Feb. 7-8.

Matthew Clark can be reached at matthew.clark@morningsun.net or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140

2009 MIAA Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll
School    Pts.
1. Central Missouri (9)    99
2. Emporia State (2)    92
3. Nebraska-Omaha    78
4. Fort Hays State        69
5. Northwest Missouri State    60
6. Missouri Western    58
7. Missouri Southern    52
8. Washburn    34
9. Pittsburg State    33
10. Southwest Baptist    18
11. Truman    12