Tarleton Baseball will open the season among the top teams in the South Central region as the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association has the Texans in the top five in preseason regional poll with three players cracking the first and second team preseason all-region lineups.
"We are excited for the season to begin with this group," said head coach Bryan Conger. "As the preseason polls start to roll out, we understand what they mean and what they don't. Our goal is to be in that No. 1 spot in the middle of May."
The NCBWA regional poll has no relevance to the official NCAA regional polls that determines postseason appearance. It is a media-based poll voted on by sports information directors among each region.
Tarleton comes into the preseason poll selected at No. 5 behind Colorado Mesa, Lubbock Christian, Angelo State, and West Texas A&M, respectively, and ahead of Arkansas-Fort Smith, St. Edward's, Texas A&M-Kingsville, Colorado Mines, and St. Mary's. The Texans went 28-20 last season and return all seven All-LSC first and second team selections.
Among the players receiving recognition from across the region are seniors Nathan Hickey, Dylan Lemons, and Blake Adams.
Hickey is coming off an All-LSC first team season in which he led the Lone Star Conference in ERA at 1.79. That mark was also a Tarleton single-season ERA record by a starting pitcher as the right-hander from Granbury allowed just 22 earned runs in 70.1 innings of work in his 8-2 season. He was also an LSC Gold Glove pitcher.
In addition to his all-conference recognition, Hickey also garnered second-team regional honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association, D2 Conference Commissioner's Association, and the NCBWA. He was also named the NCBWA Regional Pitcher of the Week on May 1 after shutting out Cameron in Stephenville.
Dylan Lemons joins Hickey on the first team as the slugger from Alvarado was named the NCBWA Preseason First Team First Baseman. Lemons hit .327 in his debut season at Tarleton with a league-leading 12 home runs and a team-high 40 RBI en route to earning first-team All-LSC acclaim.
In addition to his all-conference recognition, Lemons was a first-team all-region selection by the NCBWA and a second-team honoree by D2CCA.
Blake Adams received recognition on the preseason all-region second team after boasting a first-team all-conference season in 2017. The outfielder from Longview hit .331 in the leadoff spot last season to go along with 10 home runs, 25 RBI, and 47 runs scored.
Over the summer, Adams competed in the WMBL Summer League in Canada and was named the league's Rookie of the Year in an All-Star season that saw him hit .360 in 47 games with a team record 54 RBI.
Tarleton will begin the 2018 campaign on Friday, Feb. 2, at Minute Maid Park in Houston against Henderson State at 10 a.m. to open the annual Houston Winter Invitational.