BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southwestern Athletic Conference revealed its 2019 preseason baseball honors, and defending tournament champion Texas Southern has been chosen as the preseason favorite in the Western Division while Alabama State was tabbed as the Eastern Division favorite.
The vote was conducted by the league’s Sports Information Directors and Head Coaches.
The Texas Southern Tigers enter the 2019 season searching for their fourth championship in five seasons and hopes to become the first team since the 2001-2003 Southern Jaguars to win three straight titles. TSU garnered 72 total points with nine first-place votes. Grambling State was second with 67 total points and six first-place votes, and Arkansas-Pine Bluff was third with 42 points.
In the East, Alabama State earned 73 points and nine first-place votes, outpointing Jackson State (69 points; six first-place votes). Alcorn State earned 40 points, coming in third for projected finish in the division.
Individual honors were also announced, with a Texas Southern tandem sweeping the awards. Reigning Pitcher of the Year Aron Solis and first-team selection Christian Sanchez were selected as Preseason Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively.
Solis, a first-team choice on the All-SWAC Preseason team, is coming off a 2018 season where he posted a 10-4 record while striking out 69 batters on his way to a 3.67 ERA. He threw 90 2/3 innings, second-most in the conference.
Sanchez led the league with 17 home runs and was second in the SWAC with 60 runs batted in. The senior slugger hit .335 last season, adding 13 doubles and boasting a .651 slugging percentage while stealing 12 bases.
TSU’s Olajide Oloruntimilehin was named to the preseason all-SWAC Second Team
Rounding out the preseason teams, Alabama State, Jackson State and Grambling State each had five total selections, while Arkansas-Pine Bluff had four honorees. Texas Southern picked up three nods, while Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State had one selection each.
To view the complete list of All-SWAC honorees, see the SWAC’s press release here.