FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –– SEBaseball.com released its 2006 preseason predictions on Friday and tabbed Arkansas as the top team in the SEC Western Division and Razorbacks’ hurler Nick Schmidt as the Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
The Hogs edged Mississippi State for top honors in the SEC West followed by Ole Miss, Alabama, LSU and Auburn. Defending SEC champions Florida is the preseason choice in the SEC’s Eastern Division and the pick for the overall SEC champion. South Carolina is ranked second followed by Tennessee, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
The left-handed Schmidt was also named first-team All-SEC by SEBaseball.com, along with Arkansas first baseman Danny Hamblin. Schmidt was a freshman All-American a season ago after an 8-2 record, a 2.80 ERA and 89 strikeouts. Hamblin led almost every offensive category for the Razorbacks as a sophomore with a .341 batting average, 19 doubles, 10 home runs and 49 RBI.
The Hogs also had two second-team selections by SEBaseball.com in centerfielder Craig Gentry and starting pitcher Charley Boyce. Gentry produced outstanding numbers for the Razorbacks a season ago after taking over in centerfield in late March. The Fort Smith native hit .311 with 12 doubles and 18 stolen bases. Boyce pitched out of just about every role for the Hogs in 2005, finishing with an 11-10 record and a 3.53 ERA in 122.1 innings.
Florida’s Matt LaPorta was selected as SEBaseball.com’s Hitter of the Year.
Arkansas opens its season on Friday, Feb. 10, in Mobile, Ala., against George Mason. The home schedule begins on Friday, Feb. 24, with a doubleheader against Louisiana Tech. For tickets visit www.hogwired.com or call 1-800-982-4647.